Full Text Political Transcripts August 15, 2017: President Donald Trump’s Press Conference on Infrastructure & Chalottesville, Virginia

POLITICAL TRANSCRIPTS

TRUMP PRESIDENCY & 115TH CONGRESS:

President Donald Trump’s Press Conference on Infrastructure & Chalottesville, Virginia

Source: Politico, 8-15-17

PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: Hello, everybody. Great to be back in New York with all of our friends, and some great friends outside the building, I must tell you.

I want to thank all of our distinguished guests who are with us today, including members of our cabinet, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, OMB Director Mick Mulvaney, and of course our Transportation Secretary, who’s doing a fabulous job, Elaine Chao.
Thank you all for doing a — a really incredible and creative job on what we’re going to be discussing today, which is infrastructure.
We just had a great set of briefings upstairs on our infrastructure agenda. My administration is working every day to deliver the world-class infrastructure that our people deserve, and frankly, that our country deserves. That’s why I just signed a new executive order to dramatically reform the nation’s badly broken infrastructure permitting process.
TRUMP: Just blocks away is the Empire State Building. It took 11 months to build the Empire State Building. But today, it can take as long as a decade and much more than that. Many, many stories where it takes 20 and 25 years just to get approvals to start construction of a fairly routine highway. Highway builders must get up to 16 different approvals involving 9 different federal agencies governed by 29 different statutes. One agency alone can stall a project for many, many years and even decades.
Not only does this cost our economy billions of dollars but it also denies our citizens the safe and modern infrastructure they deserve. This overregulated permitting process is a massive, self- inflicted wound on our country. It’s disgraceful. Denying our people much-needed investments in their community and I just want to show you this because it was just shown me and I think I’m going to show it to the media.
Both real and fake media, by the way. This is what it takes to get something approved today.
Elaine, you see that?
So this is what it takes. Permitting process flow chart, that’s a flow chart. So that can go out to 20 years, this shows about 10. But that can go out to about 20 years to get something approved. This is for a highway. I’ve seen a highway recently in a certain state, I won’t mention its name, it’s 17 years.
I could have built it for $4 million or $5 million without the permitting process. It costs hundreds of millions of dollars but it took 17 years to get it approved and many, many — many, many pages of environmental impact studies. This is what we will bring it down to. This is less than two years. This is going to happen quickly, that’s what I’m signing today.
This will be less than two years for a highway. So it’s going to be quick, it’s going to be a very streamlined process. And by the way, if it doesn’t meet environmental safeguards, we’re not going to approve it. Very simple. We’re not going to approve it. So this is — maybe this one, we’ll say “let’s throw the other one away.” Would anybody like it from the media? Would anybody like that long, beautiful chart? You can have it.
So my executive order also requires agencies to work together efficiently by requiring one lead agency for each major infrastructure project. It also holds agencies accountable if they fail to streamline their review process. So each agency is accountable. We’re going to get infrastructure built quickly; inexpensively, relatively speaking; and the permitting process will go very, very quickly.
No longer will we tolerate one job-killing delay after another. No longer will we accept a broken system that benefits consultants and lobbyists at the expense of hardworking Americans. Now, I knew the process very well, probably better than anybody. I had to get permits for this building and many of the buildings I built — all of the buildings I built in Manhattan and many other places.
And I will tell you that the consultants are rich people. They go around making it very difficult, they lobby Congress, they lobby state governments, city governments to make it very difficult so that you have to hire consultants and that you have to take years and pay them a fortune. So we’re streamlining the process and we won’t be having so much of that any more.
No longer will we allow the infrastructure of our magnificent country to crumble and decay. While protecting the environment, we will build gleaming new roads, bridges, railways, waterways, tunnels and highways. We will rebuild our country with American workers, American iron, American aluminum, American steel. We will create millions of new jobs and make millions of American dreams come true.
Our infrastructure will again be the best in the world. We used to have the greatest infrastructure anywhere in the world. And today we’re like a third world country. We’re literally like a third world country. Our infrastructure will again be the best and we will restore the pride in our communities, our nation and all over the United States, we’ll be proud again.
So I want to thank everybody for being here. God bless you, God bless the United States. And if you have any questions, we have — Mick, you could come up here, please. Come on up. Mick Mulvaney. If you have any questions, please feel free to ask.
QUESTION: Why do you think that CEOs are leaving your manufacturing council?
TRUMP: Because they’re not taking their job seriously as it pertains to this country. We want jobs, manufacturing in this country. If you look at some of those people that you’re talking about, they’re outside of the country. They’re having a lot of their product made outside. If you look at Merck, as an example, take a look where — excuse me — excuse me — take a look at where their product is made. It’s made outside of our country. We want products made in the country.
Now, I have to tell you, some of the folks that will leave, they’re leaving out of embarrassment because they make they’re products outside. And I’ve been lecturing them, including the gentleman that you’re referring to, about you have to bring it back to this country. You can’t do it necessarily in Ireland and all of these other places. You have to bring this work back to this country.
That’s what I want. I want manufacturing to be back into the United States so that American workers can benefit.
(CROSSTALK)
QUESTION: … wait so long (inaudible)?
TRUMP: I didn’t wait long. I didn’t wait long.
(CROSSTALK)
TRUMP: I didn’t wait long. I wanted to make sure, unlike most politicians, that what I said was correct, not make a quick statement. The statement I made on Saturday, the first statement, was a fine statement. But you don’t make statements that direct unless you know the facts. It takes a little while to get the facts. You still don’t know the facts. And it’s a very, very important process to me. And it’s a very important statement.
So, I don’t want to go quickly and just make a statement for the sake of making a political statement. I want to know the facts. If you go back to my…
(CROSSTALK)
TRUMP: I brought it. I brought it. I brought it.
QUESTION: What did you (inaudible)?
TRUMP: As I said on — remember this — Saturday, we condemn in the strongest possible terms this egregious display of hatred, bigotry and violence. It has no place in America. And when I went on from there.
Now, here’s the thing. As to — excuse me — excuse me — take it nice and easy.
Here’s the thing. When I make a statement, I like to be correct. I want the facts. This event just happened. In fact, a lot of the event didn’t even happen yet, as we were speaking. This event just happened. Before I make a statement, I need the facts.
So I don’t want to rush into a statement. So making the statement when I made it was excellent. In fact, the young woman who I hear is a fantastic young women, and it was on NBC, her mother wrote me and said through, I guess, Twitter, social media, the nicest things and I very much appreciate that.
I hear she was a fine, a really — actually, an incredible young woman. But her mother on Twitter thanked me for what I said. And honestly, if the press were not fake and if it was honest, the press would have said what I said was very nice. But unlike you and unlike — excuse me — unlike you and unlike the media, before I make a statement, I like to know the facts.
(CROSSTALK)
TRUMP: They don’t. They don’t.
(CROSSTALK)
TRUMP: How about a couple of…
(CROSSTALK)
TRUMP: How about a couple of infrastructure questions?
(CROSSTALK)
QUESTION: Mr. Trump, was it terrorism, that event? Was that terrorism?
TRUMP: Say, what?
QUESTION: The CEO of Walmart said you missed a (inaudible) opportunity to help bring the country together. Did you?
TRUMP: Not at all. I think the country — look, you take a look. I’ve created over a million jobs since I’m president. The country is booming. The stock market is setting records. We have the highest employment numbers we’ve ever had in the history of our country.
We’re doing record business. We have the highest levels of enthusiasm. So the head of Walmart, who I know is a very nice guy, was making a political statement. I mean…
(CROSSTALK)
TRUMP: … it the same way. And you know why? Because I want to make sure when I make a statement that the statement is correct. And there was no way — there was no way of making a correct statement that early.
I had to see the facts, unlike a lot of reporters — unlike a lot of reporters…
(CROSSTALK)
TRUMP: I didn’t know David Duke was there. I wanted to see the facts. And the facts as they started coming out were very well stated. In fact, everybody said his statement was beautiful; if he would have made it sooner, that would have been good. I couldn’t have made it sooner because I didn’t know all of the facts.
Frankly, people still don’t know all of the facts. It was very important that — excuse me, excuse me — it was very important to me to get the facts out and correctly. Because if I would have made a fast statement, and the first statement was made without knowing much other than what we were seeing.
The second statement was made after — with knowledge, with great knowledge. There are still things — excuse me — there are still things that people don’t know.
TRUMP: I want to make a statement with knowledge. I wanted to know the facts.
OK…
(CROSSTALK)
QUESTION: Was it — two questions. Was it terrorism? And can you tell us what you’re feeling about your…
(CROSSTALK)
TRUMP: Well, I think the driver of the car is a disgrace to himself, his family and his country. And that is — you can call it terrorism. You can call it murder. You can call it whatever you want. I would just call it as the fastest one to come up with a good verdict. That’s what I’d call it. Because there is a question. Is it murder? Is it terrorism? And then you get into legal semantics.
The driver of the car is a murderer. And what he did was a horrible, horrible, inexcusable thing.
QUESTION: Can you tell us how you’re feeling about your chief strategist, Mr. Bannon? Can you talk about that?
TRUMP: Go ahead.
QUESTION: I would echo Maggie’s (ph) question. Steve Bannon…
TRUMP: I never spoke to Mr. Bannon about it.
QUESTION: But can you tell us broadly what you’re — do you still have confidence in Steve (ph)?
TRUMP: Well, we see (ph) — and look, look. I like Mr. Bannon. He’s a friend of mine. But Mr. Bannon came on very late, you know that. I went through 17 senators, governors, and I won all the primaries. Mr. Bannon came on very much later than that, and I like him. He’s a good man. He is not a racist, I can tell you that. He’s a good person. He actually gets a very unfair press in that regard.
But we’ll see what happens with Mr. Bannon, but he’s a good person, and I think the press treats him, frankly, very unfairly.
QUESTION: Do you have confidence in him? Because he has called on you to defend your national security adviser, H.R. McMaster, against…
(CROSSTALK)
TRUMP: I’ve already done it. I did it the last time.
QUESTION: And he called on it again (ph) linking this (ph)…
TRUMP: Senator McCain?
QUESTION: …the alt-right and…
TRUMP: Senator McCain, you mean the one who voted against Obamacare? Who is — you mean Senator McCain who voted against us getting good healthcare?
QUESTION: Senator McCain said that the alt-right is behind these attacks, and he linked that same group to those who perpetrated the attack in Charlottesville.
TRUMP: Well, I don’t know — I can’t tell you. I’m sure Senator McCain must know what he’s talking about. But when you say the “alt- right,” define “alt-right” to me. You define it, go ahead.
QUESTION: Well, I think that (ph)…
TRUMP: No, define it for me, come on. Let’s go. Define it for me.
QUESTION: Senator McCain defined them as the same group…
TRUMP: OK, what about the alt-left that came charging them (ph)? Excuse me. What about the alt-left that came charging at the — as you say, the alt-right? Do they have any semblance of guilt?
QUESTION: Mr. Trump…
(CROSSTALK)
TRUMP: Let me ask you this. What about the fact they came charging — that they came charging with clubs in their hands, swinging clubs? Do they have any problem? I think they do.
QUESTION: Sir…
TRUMP: As far as I’m concerned, that was a horrible, horrible day.
Wait a minute, I’m not finished.
(CROSSTALK)
I’m not finished, fake news. That was a horrible day…
QUESTION: (OFF-MIKE)
TRUMP: I will tell you something. I watched those very closely, much more closely than you people watched it. And you have — you had a group on one side that was bad, and you had a group on the other side that was also very violent, and nobody wants to say that, but I’ll say it right now. You had a group — you had a group on the other side that came charging in without a permit, and they were very, very violent.
(CROSSTALK)
TRUMP: Go ahead.
QUESTION: Do you think that the — what you call the alt-left is the same as neo-Nazis?
TRUMP: Those people — all of those people — excuse me. I’ve condemned neo-Nazis. I’ve condemned many different groups. But not all of those people were neo-Nazis, believe me. Not all of those people were White Supremacists, by any stretch. Those people were also there because they wanted to protest the taking down of a statue, Robert E. Lee.
So — excuse me. And you take a look at some of the groups and you see — and you’d know it if you were honest reporters, which in many cases you’re not, but many of those people were there to protest the taking down of the statue of Robert E. Lee.
So this week it’s Robert E. Lee. I noticed that Stonewall Jackson’s coming down. I wonder, is it George Washington next week? And is it Thomas Jefferson the week after?
You know, you all — you really do have to ask yourself, where does it stop? But they were there to protest — excuse me. You take a look, the night before, they were there to protest the taking down of the statue of Robert E. Lee.
Infrastructure question, go ahead.
QUESTION: Should the statue of Robert E. Lee stay up?
TRUMP: I would say that’s up to a local town, community, or the federal government, depending on where it is located.
QUESTION: Are you against the Confederacy?
QUESTION: How concerned are you about race relations in America? And do you think things have gotten worse or better since you took office?
TRUMP: I think they’ve gotten better or the same — look, they’ve been frayed for a long time. And you can ask President Obama about that, because he’d make speeches about it.
But I believe that the fact that I brought in — it will be soon, millions of jobs, you see where companies are moving back into our country, I think that’s going to have a tremendous positive impact on race relations. We have companies coming back into our country. We have two car companies that just announced. We have Foxconn in Wisconsin just announce. We have many companies I say pouring back into the country.
I think that’s going to have a huge, positive impact on race relations. You know why? It’s jobs. What people want now, they want jobs. They want great jobs with good pay. And when they have that, you watch how race relations will be.
And I’ll tell you, we’re spending a lot of money on the inner cities. We’re going to fix — we’re fixing the inner cities. We’re doing far more than anybody’s done with respect to the inner cities. It’s a priority for me. And it’s very important.
(CROSSTALK)
QUESTION: Mr. President, are you putting what you’re calling the alt-left and white supremacists on the same moral plane?
TRUMP: I’m not putting anybody on a moral plane. What I’m saying is this. You had a group on one side and you had a group on the other, and they came at each other with clubs and it was vicious and it was horrible. And it was a horrible thing to watch.
But there is another side. There was a group on this side, you can call them the left. You’ve just called them the left — that came violently attacking the other group. So you can say what you want, but that’s the way it is.
(CROSSTALK)
QUESTION: … on both sides, sir?
(CROSSTALK)
QUESTION: You said there was hatred, there was violence on both sides. Are…
(CROSSTALK)
TRUMP: Well, I do think there’s blame — yes, I think there’s blame on both sides. You look at — you look at both sides. I think there’s blame on both sides. And I have no doubt about it, and you don’t have any doubt about it either.
(CROSSTALK)
TRUMP: And — and — and if you reported it accurately, you would say (inaudible).
(CROSSTALK)
QUESTION: (inaudible) started this (inaudible) Charlottesville. They showed up in Charlottesville to protest…
(CROSSTALK) TRUMP: Excuse me, excuse me. (inaudible) themselves (inaudible) and you have some very bad people in that group. But you also had people that were very fine people, on both sides. You had people in that group — excuse me, excuse me — I saw the same pictures as you did. You had people in that group that were there to protest the taking down of, to them, a very, very important statue and the renaming of a park from Robert E. Lee to another name.
(CROSSTALK)
QUESTION: George Washington and Robert E. Lee are not the same (inaudible)…
(CROSSTALK)
TRUMP: George Washington was a slave-owner. Was George Washington a slave-owner? So, will George Washington now lose his status? Are we going to take down — excuse me — are we going to take down — are we going to take down statues to George Washington?
(CROSSTALK)
TRUMP: How about Thomas Jefferson? What do you think of Thomas Jefferson? You like him?
(CROSSTALK)
TRUMP: OK. Good. Are we going to take down the statue? Because he was a major slave-owner. Now, are we going to take down his statue? So you know what? It’s fine. You’re changing history. You’re changing culture. And you had people, and I’m not talking about the neo-Nazis and the white nationalists, because they should be condemned totally. But you had many people in that group other than neo-Nazis and white nationalists.
OK? And the press has treated them absolutely unfairly. Now, in the other group also, you had some fine people, but you also had troublemakers and you see them come with the black outfits and with the helmets and with the baseball bats. You’ve got — you had a lot of bad — you had a lot of bad people in the other group…
(CROSSTALK)
QUESTION: … treated unfairly (inaudible) you were saying. You were saying the press has treated white nationalists unfairly? (inaudible) understand what you’re saying.
TRUMP: No, no. There were people in that rally, and I looked the night before. If you look, they were people protesting very quietly the taking down of the statue of Robert E. Lee. I’m sure in that group there were some bad ones. The following day, it looked like they had some rough, bad people — neo-Nazis, white nationalists, whatever you want to call them.
But you had a lot of people in that group that were there to innocently protest and very legally protest, because you know — I don’t know if you know, they had a permit. The other group didn’t have a permit.
So, I only tell you this, there are two sides to a story. I thought what took place was a horrible moment for our country, a horrible moment. But there are two sides to the country (sic).
Does anybody have a final — doesn’t anybody have a — you have an infrastructure…
(CROSSTALK)
QUESTION: What makes you think you can get an infrastructure bill? You didn’t get health care. You…
(CROSSTALK)
TRUMP: Well, you know, I’ll tell you. We came very close with health care. Unfortunately, John McCain decided to vote against it at the last minute. You’ll have to ask John McCain why he did that. But we came very close to health care. We will end up getting health care, but we’ll get the infrastructure. And actually, infrastructure is something that I think we’ll have bipartisan support on. I actually think — I actually think Democrats will go along with the infrastructure.
(CROSSTALK)
QUESTION: Mr. President, have you spoken to the family — have you spoken to the family of the victim of the car…
(CROSSTALK)
TRUMP: … I’ll be reaching out. I’ll be reaching out.
QUESTION: When will you be reaching out?
TRUMP: I was very — I thought that the statement put out — the mother’s statement I thought was a beautiful statement. I must tell you, I was — it was something that I really appreciated. I thought it was terrific. And really, under the — under the kind of stress that she’s under and the heartache that she’s under, I thought putting out that statement to me was really something I won’t forget.
Thank you all very much. Thank you. Thank you.

Full Text Political Transcripts August 14, 2017: President Donald Trump Delivers a Statement Condemning Charlottesville Violence

POLITICAL TRANSCRIPTS

TRUMP PRESIDENCY & 115TH CONGRESS:

Statement by President Trump

Source: WH, 8-14-17

Diplomatic Room

12:38 P.M. EDT

THE PRESIDENT:  Thank you.  I’m in Washington today to meet with my economic team about trade policy and major tax cuts and reform.  We are renegotiating trade deals and making them good for the American worker.  And it’s about time.

Our economy is now strong.  The stock market continues to hit record highs, unemployment is at a 16-year low, and businesses are more optimistic than ever before.  Companies are moving back to the United States and bringing many thousands of jobs with them.  We have already created over one million jobs since I took office.

We will be discussing economic issues in greater detail later this afternoon, but, based on the events that took place over the weekend in Charlottesville, Virginia, I would like to provide the nation with an update on the ongoing federal response to the horrific attack and violence that was witnessed by everyone.

I just met with FBI Director Christopher Wray and Attorney General Jeff Sessions.  The Department of Justice has opened a civil rights investigation into the deadly car attack that killed one innocent American and wounded 20 others.  To anyone who acted criminally in this weekend’s racist violence, you will be held fully accountable.  Justice will be delivered.

As I said on Saturday, we condemn in the strongest possible terms this egregious display of hatred, bigotry, and violence.  It has no place in America.

And as I have said many times before:  No matter the color of our skin, we all live under the same laws, we all salute the same great flag, and we are all made by the same almighty God.  We must love each other, show affection for each other, and unite together in condemnation of hatred, bigotry, and violence.  We must rediscover the bonds of love and loyalty that bring us together as Americans.

Racism is evil.  And those who cause violence in its name are criminals and thugs, including the KKK, neo-Nazis, white supremacists, and other hate groups that are repugnant to everything we hold dear as Americans.

We are a nation founded on the truth that all of us are created equal.  We are equal in the eyes of our Creator.  We are equal under the law.  And we are equal under our Constitution.  Those who spread violence in the name of bigotry strike at the very core of America.

Two days ago, a young American woman, Heather Heyer, was tragically killed.  Her death fills us with grief, and we send her family our thoughts, our prayers, and our love.

We also mourn the two Virginia state troopers who died in service to their community, their commonwealth, and their country.  Troopers Jay Cullen and Burke Bates exemplify the very best of America, and our hearts go out to their families, their friends, and every member of American law enforcement.

These three fallen Americans embody the goodness and decency of our nation.  In times such as these, America has always shown its true character:  responding to hate with love, division with unity, and violence with an unwavering resolve for justice.

As a candidate, I promised to restore law and order to our country, and our federal law enforcement agencies are following through on that pledge.  We will spare no resource in fighting so that every American child can grow up free from violence and fear.  We will defend and protect the sacred rights of all Americans, and we will work together so that every citizen in this blessed land is free to follow their dreams in their hearts, and to express the love and joy in their souls.

Thank you.  God bless you.  And God bless America.  Thank you very much.

END
12:43 P.M. EDT

Full Text Political Transcripts August 11, 2017: President Donald Trump Delivers a Statement Following a National Security Briefing

POLITICAL TRANSCRIPTS

TRUMP PRESIDENCY & 115TH CONGRESS:

President Trump Delivers a Statement Following a National Security Briefing

Source: WH, 8-11-17

Full Text Political Transcripts August 10, 2017: President Donald Trump Press Conference on North Korea

POLITICAL TRANSCRIPTS

TRUMP PRESIDENCY & 115TH CONGRESS:

President Trump Press Conference 

Source: White House, 8-10-17

 

 

Full Text Political Transcripts July 31, 2017: President Donald Trump’s Remarks at Presentation of Medal of Honor to Specialist Five James C. McCloughan, U.S. Army

POLITICAL TRANSCRIPTS

TRUMP PRESIDENCY & 115TH CONGRESS:

Remarks by President Trump at Presentation of Medal of Honor to Specialist Five James C. McCloughan, U.S. Army

Source: WH,  7-31-17

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East Room

3:15 P.M. EDT

THE PRESIDENT:  Thank you very much.  Please be seated.  Thank you, Chaplain Hurley.  Secretary Mnuchin, Secretary Mattis, Secretary Shulkin, Senator Stabenow, Congressman Upton, and members of the Armed Forces:  Thank you for joining us as we award our nation’s highest military honor to Specialist Five James C. McCloughan.

Today, we pay tribute to a veteran who went above and beyond the call of duty to protect our comrades, our country, and our freedom.

Joining Jim today is his wife Cherie, his brothers Mike and Tom, his sons Jamie and Matt, and many other members of his very large and beautiful family.

We’re also gratified to be joined by eight previous Medal of Honor recipients.  Now, Jim’s name will stand forever alongside theirs in our history and in our hearts.  I want to take a few minutes to tell you about Jim and how he earned this place among legends.

Jim was raised in Bangor, Michigan.  His father built their house from scratch and worked 40 years at a piano factory.  Jim’s dad taught him a simple but powerful lesson:  Never do anything halfway.  Always do your best.  Jim took that lesson very much to heart.  He played for four varsity sports in high school and three in college.

In August of 1968, Jim was drafted into the Army.  Within six months, he was trained as a medic and arrived in Vietnam. Right away, Jim poured all of himself into his duties treating the sick and the wounded.  Before long, all his fellow soldiers called him “Doc.”

On May 13, 1969, less than three months after he arrived, Jim was one of 89 men in Charlie Company to embark on a mission to secure a transportation route near Nui Yon.  As Jim and his men jumped out of the helicopter, it quickly became clear that they were surrounded by enemy troops.  Within minutes, two choppers were shot down, and one of his men was badly wounded in the middle of an open field.

Jim did not hesitate.  He blazed through 100 meters of enemy fire to carry the wounded and the soldier to safety.  But this was only the first of many heroic deeds Jim would perform over the next 48 hours.

After tending to the first wounded soldier, Jim joined a mission to advance toward the enemy, and advance they did.  Before long, they were ambushed.  Again, he ran into danger to rescue his men.  As he cared for two soldiers, shrapnel from a rocket-propelled grenade slashed open the back of Jim’s body from head to foot.

Yet that terrible wound didn’t stop Jim from pulling those two men to safety, nor did it stop him from answering the plea of another wounded comrade and carrying him to safety atop his own badly injured body.  He was badly injured.

And so it went, shot after shot, blast upon blast.  As one of his comrades recalled, whoever called “medic” could immediately count on McCloughan.  He’s a brave guy.

As day turned to dusk, nearly all of those who could and really, really had to make it back — they were finally within their night defensive position, except for one soldier whose plea Jim could not ignore.

Again, “Doc” did not hesitate.  He crawled through a rice paddy thick with steel rain.  That means bullets all over the place.  As soldiers watched him, they were sure that was the last time they would see “Doc.”  They thought that was the end of their friend, Jim.

But after several minutes passed, Jim emerged from the smoke and fire carrying yet another soldier.  He immediately badgered [bandaged] and fixed and worked, but he got the wounds fixed and lifted the soldier to a medevac helicopter.

His lieutenant ordered Jim to get in, too.  “Get in,” he said, “get in.”  But Jim refused.  He said, “You’re going to need me here.”  As Jim now says, “I would have rather died on the battlefield than know that men died because they did not have a medic.”

Over the next 24 hours, Jim fired at enemy soldiers, suffered a bullet wound to his arm, and continued to race into gunfire to save more and more lives.

And yet, as night approached again, after nearly two days of no food, no water, and no rest, Jim volunteered to hold a blinking light in an open field to signal for a supply drop.  He would not yield, he would not rest, he would not stop, and he would not flinch in the face of sure death and definite danger.

Though he was thousands of miles from home, it was as if the strength and pride of our whole nation was beating inside of Jim’s heart.  Jim did what his father had taught him — he gave it his all and then he just kept giving.

In those 48 hours, Jim rescued 10 American soldiers and tended to countless others.  He was one of 32 men who fought until the end.  They held their ground against more than 2,000 enemy troops.

Jim, I know I speak for every person here when I say that we are in awe of your actions and your bravery.  But let me tell you one thing, and one more story about Jim.  On the second day of that bloody fight, Jim found a few soldiers and a fellow soldier who had been shot badly in the stomach.  He knew the soldier wouldn’t make it if he flung him on the back, so he lifted him up and carried him in his arms.

As Jim was carrying the soldier, a thought flashed through his mind.  Although Jim had always been very close to his father, he realized that it was not since he had been a young boy that he had told his dad those three very simple but beautiful words:  “I love you.”

In that moment, Jim offered up a prayer.  He asked God, “If you get me out of this hell on Earth so I can tell my dad I love him, I’ll be the best coach and the best father you could ever ask for.”  As he prayed, a great peace came over him.  And if it was God’s will for him to live, he’d keep his promise to God as soon as he had the chance.

Jim made it out of that hell on Earth.  He made it; here he is.  And the first thing he did when he arrived back on American soil was to say those beautiful words:  “I love you, Dad.  I love you.”  Jim said those words over and over again for the next 22 years until the last time he saw his father, the night before his dad passed on.

Today, I’d venture to say his dad is the proudest father in heaven.  Jim fought with all of the love and courage in his soul.  He was prepared to lay down his life so his brothers-in-arms could live theirs.

With us today are 10 of the men who fought alongside Jim, and five of those he saved.  To Bill, Randy, Mike, Joe, Kent, Robert, John, Charles, Michael, Orestes — thank you for your service and sacrifice.  Stand up wherever you may be.  Where are you?  Where are you?  (Applause.)  Thank you, fellas.  That’s great.

For over two centuries, our brave men and women in uniform have overcome tyranny, fascism, communism, and every threat to our freedom — every single threat they’ve overcome.  And we’ve overcome these threats because of titans like Jim whose spirit could never be conquered.

That’s what this award is, and Jim’s life represents so well:  America’s unbreakable spirit.  It’s been 48 years since Jim’s battle in Vietnam.  He is now a husband, a father, and a grandfather.  He coached high school football, wrestling, and baseball for 38 years, just like he said he would.  And he brought together every member he could find of his beloved Charlie Company.

To many people in this room, Specialist Five McCloughan has always been their friend, “Jim.”  To others, he’s been “Coach.” To those who bravely served with him in Vietnam, he’s still called their “Doc.”  To his parents Scotty and Margaret, both watching from heaven, he will always be their son.  But today, [to] 320 million grateful American hearts, Private McCloughan carries one immortal title — and that title is “hero.”

Specialist Five McCloughan:  We honor you.  We salute you. And with God as your witness, we thank you for what you did for all of us.

Now I would like the military aide to come forward and read the citation.

MILITARY AIDE:  The President of the United States of America, authorized by Act of Congress, March 3rd, 1863, has awarded in the name of Congress the Medal of Honor to Private First Class James C. McCloughan, United States Army, for conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty.

Private First Class [James] C. McCloughan distinguished himself by acts of gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty from May 13th through 15th, 1969, while serving as a combat medic with Charlie Company, 3rd Battalion, 21st Infantry, 196th Light Infantry Brigade, Americal Division.

The company air assaulted into an area near Tam Ky and Nui Yon Hill.  On May 13th, with complete disregard for his life, he ran 100 meters in an open field through heavy fire to rescue a comrade too injured to move and carried him to safety.  That same day, 2nd Platoon was ordered to search the area near Nui Yon Hill when the platoon was ambushed by a large North Vietnamese Army force and sustained heavy casualties.

With complete disregard for his life and personal safety, Private First Class McCloughan led two Americans into the safety of a trench while being wounded by shrapnel from a rocket-propelled grenade.  He ignored a direct order to stay back, and braved an enemy assault while moving into the “kill zone” on four more occasions to extract wounded comrades.

He treated the injured, prepared the evacuation, and though bleeding heavily from shrapnel wounds on his head and entire body, refused evacuation to safety in order to remain at the battle site with his fellow soldiers who were heavily outnumbered by the North Vietnamese Army forces.

On May 14th, the platoon was again ordered to move out towards Nui Yon Hill.  Private First Class McCloughan was wounded a second time by small arms fire and shrapnel from a rocket-propelled grenade while rendering aid to two soldiers in an open rice paddy.  In the final phases of the attack, two companies from 2nd North Vietnamese Army Division and an element of 700 soldiers from a Viet Cong regiment descended upon Charlie Company’s position on three sides.

Private First Class McCloughan, again with complete disregard for his life, went into the crossfire numerous times throughout the battle to extract the wounded soldiers, while also fighting the enemy.  His relentless and courageous actions inspired and motivated his comrades to fight for their survival.  When supplies ran low, Private First Class McCloughan volunteered to hold a blinking strobe light in an open area as a marker for a nighttime resupply drop.  He remained steadfast while bullets landed all around him and rocket-propelled grenades flew over his prone, exposed body.

During the morning darkness of May 15th, Private First Class McCloughan knocked out a rocket-propelled grenade position with a grenade, fought and eliminated enemy soldiers, treated numerous casualties, kept two critically-wounded soldiers alive through the night, and organized the dead and wounded for evacuation at daylight.  His timely and courageous actions were instrumental in saving the lives of his fellow soldiers.

Private First Class McCloughan’s personal heroism, professional competence, and devotion to duty are in keeping with the highest traditions of the military service and reflect great credit upon himself, the Americal Division, and the United States Army.

(The Medal of Honor is presented.)  (Applause.)

(A prayer is given.)

THE PRESIDENT:  Jim, thank you.  God bless you.  God bless your family.  God bless the United States of America.  Thank you, Jim.  (Applause.)

END
3:35 P.M. EDT

Full Text Political Transcripts July 31, 2017: President Donald Trump’s Remarks After Swearing In General John Kelly as White House Chief of Staff

POLITICAL TRANSCRIPTS

TRUMP PRESIDENCY & 115TH CONGRESS:

Remarks by President Trump After Swearing In General John Kelly as White House Chief of Staff

Source: WH, 7-31-17

Oval Office

9:34 A.M. EDT

THE PRESIDENT:  We just swore in General Kelly.  He will do a spectacular job, I have no doubt, as Chief of Staff.  What he’s done in terms of Homeland Security is record-shattering — if you look at the border, you look at the tremendous results we’ve had, and you look at the spirit.  And with a very controversial situation, there’s been very little controversy — which is pretty amazing by itself.

So I want to congratulate you on having done a fantastic job, General.  And we look forward to, if it’s possible, an even better job as Chief of Staff.

GENERAL KELLY:  I’ll try, sir.

THE PRESIDENT:  Thank you very much.  We’ll see you in the boardroom.  We’re having a Cabinet meeting.

Q    Mr. President, how do you expect things will be different under General Kelly’s tenure?

THE PRESIDENT:  Well, I think we’ve done very well.  We’ve done very well.  Lots of records.  Lots of records created, John.

If you look at stock markets — the highest it’s ever been.  Unemployment — lowest in 17 years.  Companies are doing tremendously well.  Business spirit is the highest it’s ever been according to polls — if you look at the polls — the highest it’s ever been in the history of these polls.

We’re doing very well.  We have a tremendous base.  We have a tremendous group of support.  The country is optimistic.  And I think the General would just add to it.  But the country is doing very well.  Strongest stock market ever.  On Friday, we hit the highest in the history of the stock market.  Business is very enthusiastic.  And we will proceed and we will keep going.

But we have a fantastic leader, Chief of Staff.  He’s going to do a really great job.

Thank you very much.  We’ll see you in the boardroom.

END
9:36 A.M. EDT

Full Text Political Transcripts July 27, 2017: Health Care Freedom Act of 2017 H.R. 1628) Text

POLITICAL TRANSCRIPTS

TRUMP PRESIDENCY & 115TH CONGRESS:

Health Care Freedom Act of 2017 (H.R. 1628)

Source: Senate Budget Committee,  7-27-17

MCG17700 S.L.C.
AMENDMENT NO.llll Calendar No.lll
Purpose: In the nature of a substitute.
IN THE SENATE OF THE UNITED STATES—115th Cong., 1st Sess.
H. R. 1628
To provide for reconciliation pursuant to title II of the
concurrent resolution on the budget for fiscal year 2017.
Referred to the Committee on llllllllll and
ordered to be printed
Ordered to lie on the table and to be printed
AMENDMENT IN THE NATURE OF A SUBSTITUTE intended
to be proposed by lllllll
Viz:
1 Strike all after the enacting clause and insert the fol-
2 lowing:
3 SECTION 1. SHORT TITLE.
4 This Act may be cited as the ‘‘Health Care Freedom
5 Act’’.
6 TITLE I
7 SEC. 101. INDIVIDUAL MANDATE.
8 (a) IN GENERAL.—Section 5000A(c) of the Internal
9 Revenue Code of 1986 is amended—
10 (1) in paragraph (2)(B)(iii), by striking ‘‘2.5
11 percent’’ and inserting ‘‘Zero percent’’, and
12 (2) in paragraph (3)—
2
MCG17700 S.L.C.
1 (A) by striking ‘‘$695’’ in subparagraph
2 (A) and inserting ‘‘$0’’, and
3 (B) by striking subparagraph (D).
4 (b) EFFECTIVE DATE.—The amendments made by
5 this section shall apply to months beginning after Decem-
6 ber 31, 2015.
7 SEC. 102. EMPLOYER MANDATE.
8 (a) IN GENERAL.—
9 (1) Paragraph (1) of section 4980H(c) of the
10 Internal Revenue Code of 1986 is amended by in-
11 serting ‘‘($0 in the case of months beginning after
12 December 31, 2015, and before January 1, 2025)’’
13 after ‘‘$2,000’’.
14 (2) Paragraph (1) of section 4980H(b) of the
15 Internal Revenue Code of 1986 is amended by in-
16 serting ‘‘($0 in the case of months beginning after
17 December 31, 2015, and before January 1, 2025)’’
18 after ‘‘$3,000’’.
19 (b) EFFECTIVE DATE.—The amendments made by
20 this section shall apply to months beginning after Decem-
21 ber 31, 2015.
3
MCG17700 S.L.C.
1 SEC. 103. EXTENSION OF MORATORIUM ON MEDICAL DE-
2 VICE EXCISE TAX.
3 (a) IN GENERAL.—Section 4191(c) of the Internal
4 Revenue Code of 1986 is amended by striking ‘‘December
5 31, 2017’’ and inserting ‘‘December 31, 2020’’.
6 (b) EFFECTIVE DATE.—The amendment made by
7 this section shall apply to sales after December 31, 2017.
8 SEC. 104. MAXIMUM CONTRIBUTION LIMIT TO HEALTH SAV-
9 INGS ACCOUNT INCREASED TO AMOUNT OF
10 DEDUCTIBLE AND OUT-OF-POCKET LIMITA-
11 TION.
12 (a) IN GENERAL.—Subsection (b) of section 223 of
13 the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 is amended by adding
14 at the end the following new paragraph:
15 ‘‘(9) INCREASED LIMITATION.—In the case of
16 any month beginning after December 31, 2017, and
17 before January 1, 2021—
18 ‘‘(A) paragraph (2)(A) shall be applied by
19 substituting ‘the amount in effect under sub-
20 section (c)(2)(A)(ii)(I)’ for ‘$2,250’, and
21 ‘‘(B) paragraph (2)(B) shall be applied by
22 substituting ‘the amount in effect under sub-
23 section (c)(2)(A)(ii)(II)’ for ‘$4,500’.’’.
24 (b) EFFECTIVE DATE.—The amendment made by
25 this section shall apply to taxable years beginning after
26 December 31, 2017.
4
MCG17700 S.L.C.
1 SEC. 105. FEDERAL PAYMENTS TO STATES.
2 (a) IN GENERAL.—Notwithstanding section 504(a),
3 1902(a)(23), 1903(a), 2002, 2005(a)(4), 2102(a)(7), or
4 2105(a)(1) of the Social Security Act (42 U.S.C. 704(a),
5 1396a(a)(23), 1396b(a), 1397a, 1397d(a)(4),
6 1397bb(a)(7), 1397ee(a)(1)), or the terms of any Med-
7 icaid waiver in effect on the date of enactment of this Act
8 that is approved under section 1115 or 1915 of the Social
9 Security Act (42 U.S.C. 1315, 1396n), for the 1-year pe-
10 riod beginning on the date of enactment of this Act, no
11 Federal funds provided from a program referred to in this
12 subsection that is considered direct spending for any year
13 may be made available to a State for payments to a pro-
14 hibited entity, whether made directly to the prohibited en-
15 tity or through a managed care organization under con-
16 tract with the State.
17 (b) DEFINITIONS.—In this section:
18 (1) PROHIBITED ENTITY.—The term ‘‘prohib-
19 ited entity’’ means an entity, including its affiliates,
20 subsidiaries, successors, and clinics—
21 (A) that, as of the date of enactment of
22 this Act—
23 (i) is an organization described in sec-
24 tion 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue
25 Code of 1986 and exempt from tax under
26 section 501(a) of such Code;
5
MCG17700 S.L.C.
1 (ii) is an essential community provider
2 described in section 156.235 of title 45,
3 Code of Federal Regulations (as in effect
4 on the date of enactment of this Act), that
5 is primarily engaged in family planning
6 services, reproductive health, and related
7 medical care; and
8 (iii) provides for abortions, other than
9 an abortion—
10 (I) if the pregnancy is the result
11 of an act of rape or incest; or
12 (II) in the case where a woman
13 suffers from a physical disorder, phys-
14 ical injury, or physical illness that
15 would, as certified by a physician,
16 place the woman in danger of death
17 unless an abortion is performed, in-
18 cluding a life-endangering physical
19 condition caused by or arising from
20 the pregnancy itself; and
21 (B) for which the total amount of Federal
22 and State expenditures under the Medicaid pro-
23 gram under title XIX of the Social Security Act
24 in fiscal year 2014 made directly to the entity
25 and to any affiliates, subsidiaries, successors, or
6
MCG17700 S.L.C.
1 clinics of the entity, or made to the entity and
2 to any affiliates, subsidiaries, successors, or
3 clinics of the entity as part of a nationwide
4 health care provider network, exceeded
5 $1,000,000.
6 (2) DIRECT SPENDING.—The term ‘‘direct
7 spending’’ has the meaning given that term under
8 section 250(c) of the Balanced Budget and Emer-
9 gency Deficit Control Act of 1985 (2 U.S.C. 900(c)).
10 TITLE II
11 SEC. 201. THE PREVENTION AND PUBLIC HEALTH FUND.
12 Subsection (b) of section 4002 of the Patient Protec-
13 tion and Affordable Care Act (42 U.S.C. 300u–11) is
14 amended—
15 (1) in paragraph (3), by striking ‘‘each of fiscal
16 years 2018 and 2019’’ and inserting ‘‘fiscal year
17 2018’’; and
18 (2) by striking paragraphs (4) through (8).
19 SEC. 202. COMMUNITY HEALTH CENTER PROGRAM.
20 Effective as if included in the enactment of the Medi-
21 care Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act of 2015 (Pub-
22 lic Law 114–10, 129 Stat. 87), paragraph (1) of section
23 221(a) of such Act is amended by inserting ‘‘, and an ad-
24 ditional $422,000,000 for fiscal year 2017’’ after ‘‘2017’’.
7
MCG17700 S.L.C.
1 SEC. 203. WAIVERS FOR STATE INNOVATION.
2 Section 1332 of the Patient Protection and Afford-
3 able Care Act (42 U.S.C. 18052) is amended—
4 (1) in subsection (a)(3)—
5 (A) in the first sentence, by inserting ‘‘or
6 would qualify for a reduction in’’ after ‘‘would
7 not qualify for’’;
8 (B) by adding after the second sentence
9 the following: ‘‘A State may request that all of,
10 or any portion of, such aggregate amount of
11 such credits or reductions be paid to the State
12 as described in the first sentence.’’;
13 (C) in the paragraph heading, by striking
14 ‘‘PASS THROUGH OF FUNDING’’ and inserting
15 ‘‘FUNDING’’;
16 (D) by striking ‘‘With respect’’ and insert-
17 ing the following:
18 ‘‘(A) PASS THROUGH OF FUNDING.—With
19 respect’’; and
20 (E) by adding at the end the following:
21 ‘‘(B) ADDITIONAL FUNDING.—There is au-
22 thorized to be appropriated, and is appro-
23 priated, to the Secretary of Health and Human
24 Services, out of monies in the Treasury not oth-
25 erwise obligated, $2,000,000,000, to remain
26 available until the end of fiscal year 2019. Such
8
MCG17700 S.L.C.
1 amounts shall be used to provide grants to
2 States that request financial assistance for the
3 purpose of—
4 ‘‘(i) submitting an application for a
5 waiver granted under this section; or
6 ‘‘(ii) implementing the State plan
7 under such waiver.’’;
8 (2) in subsection (b)(1), in the matter pre-
9 ceding subparagraph (A)—
10 (A) by striking ‘‘may’’ and inserting
11 ‘‘shall’’; and
12 (B) by striking ‘‘only’’;
13 (3) in subsection (d)(1), by striking ‘‘180’’ and
14 inserting ‘‘45’’; and
15 (4) in subsection (e), by striking ‘‘No waiver’’
16 and all that follows through the period at the end
17 and inserting the following: ‘‘A waiver under this
18 section—
19 ‘‘(1) shall be in effect for a period of 8 years
20 unless the State requests a shorter duration;
21 ‘‘(2) may be renewed for unlimited additional 8-
22 year periods upon application by the State; and
23 ‘‘(3) may not be cancelled by the Secretary be-
24 fore the expiration of the 8-year period (including
25 any renewal period under paragraph (2)).’’.

Full Text Political Transcripts July 27, 2017: President Donald Trump’s Remarks at Ceremony Recognizing the First Responders to the June 14 Shooting Involving Congressman Scalise

POLITICAL TRANSCRIPTS

TRUMP PRESIDENCY & 115TH CONGRESS:

July 27, 2017

Remarks by President Trump at Ceremony Recognizing the First Responders to the June 14 Shooting Involving Congressman Scalise

Source: WH, 7-27-17

East Room

3:25 P.M. EDT

THE PRESIDENT:  Please sit down.  Thank you.  And thank you to Vice President for doing a fantastic job and for the introduction.  We welcome you all, members of Congress and distinguished guests.  We are gathered here today for a very, very special occasion, as we pay tribute to real heroes whose courageous actions under fire saved so many lives in Alexandria, Virginia just six weeks ago.

On the morning of June 14th, several members of Congress began their day on the baseball diamond, practicing for one of this town’s greatest traditions — the annual charity Congressional baseball game.  It was just another beautiful morning until the unthinkable happened.  The familiar sounds of baseball were suddenly interrupted by loud, vicious gunfire.

Matt Mika, Zachary Barth, and beloved Congressman, and my friend, Steve Scalise were each shot during an attack. Others were injured trying to evade the incoming bullets, of which there were many.

Fortunately, from the moment that gunman began to shoot, he was met by return fire.  Capitol Police Special Agents David Bailey and Crystal Griner raced through the bullets — and that’s exactly what they did, they raced through the bullets — and immediately engaged the gunman.

Minutes later, members of the Alexandria Police Department arrived on scene. Officers Nicole Battaglia, Kevin Jobe, and Alex Jensen joined the fight.  Special Agent Griner was shot in the leg — visited her in the hospital, she was hurt very badly — and shrapnel injured Special Agent Bailey as bullets swirled around him.

Despite their injuries, both officers heroically continued to face down the gunman until they brought him down.  And he had rifles; they had handguns.  That’s a big difference.

These officers saved the lives of every innocent person on the field that day — many of them friends of Mike and myself.  They are American heroes and we salute them.  (Applause.)  Fantastic.  That is so beautiful.  Thank you.

We also salute the members of Congress who acted with such bravery in the face of danger, shielding each other and caring for the injured.  We honor today the emergency dispatchers who directed the first responders to the scene within seconds.  They really acted quickly.

I especially want to recognize all of the personnel from the Alexandria Fire Department and the U.S. Park Police Aviation Unit for providing life support in a crisis where every second mattered.  Thank you for what you did that day and for what you do every single day.  Thank you very much.  (Applause.)

We also express our deep appreciation for the paramedics, doctors, nurses, and surgeons from MedStar Washington Hospital and George Washington University Hospital for saving the lives of the wounded.

Joining us today is Congressman Scalise’s medical team: Dr. Jack Sava — where’s Jack?  Dr. Sava.  Stand up, Jack.  Come on.  (Applause.)  That’s beautiful.  MedStar’s Director of Trauma Surgery, and Dr. Robert Golden, the Director of Orthopedic Trauma.  Doctor, doctor — congratulations.  (Applause.)  They were a lot more worried that night at the hospital, weren’t they?  Great job.

You have the gratitude of the entire nation.  Thank you for caring for the victims and for your dear friend Steve — and he is our dear friend.  Steve is a fighter.  We’ve known that for a long time.

This week, he was been discharged from the hospital and is now beginning weeks of intensive rehabilitation at an in-patient facility.  He will recover.  We are praying for him, we are pulling for him, and we are sending his family our support and our love.

Steve’s great wife — who I have gotten to know — Jennifer is here with us today, and we applaud the strength and courage that she has shown throughout this incredible ordeal.  Thank you, Jennifer.  (Applause.)  Thank you, Jennifer.

Other Americans responded to this tragedy in ways that remind us how much stronger we are when we are united.  When the Congressional baseball game was played just one day later, nearly 25,000 people turned out — by far, a record.  They raised more than $1.5 million for charity — also, by far, a record.  The citizens of Steve’s home parish organized a blood drive in his name, and Vice President Pence donated his blood at the Congressional blood drive.  Thank you, Mike.  (Applause.)

Just recently, House Republicans and Democrats introduced a bill to provide support to Capitol Police officers who are injured on duty.  People have been looking at this for a long time.  But Jennifer, you can tell Steve that he pulled it off, okay?  That’s better than being a whip.  I hope it gets to my desk soon.  I will sign it immediately.  (Applause.)

The assault on June 14th reminded us that evil exists in this world.  But it also reminded us that heroes walk in our midst, that love triumphs over tragedy, and that our resolve is stronger than ever.  We praise America’s law enforcement — and I’ve been praising them for a long time, they are unbelievable people — for doing a tough — for doing the tough jobs, the dangerous jobs, and sometimes thankless job with tremendous integrity, devotion, and courage.  So I just want to thank law enforcement generally.  Thank you.  (Applause.)

I can only tell you from the campaign, the people love you, they respect you, and they admire you.  So I know you go through a lot, but they have great admiration.  So just remember that, please.

Today I am deeply honored to present our nation’s highest award for a public safety officer — the Medal of Valor to Special Agent Crystal Griner, Special Agent David Bailey; and Alexandria Police Department Officers Nicole Battaglia, Kevin Jobe, and Alex Jensen.

The Medal of Valor is reserved for those who go above and beyond the call of duty as each of these men and women did on that fateful day.  And they did it with great courage, and they did it with instinct.  When our human instincts tell us to run — there’s danger — our police and first responders run straight at it, standing in the breach, protecting the innocent, and keeping our loved ones safe.

Now I would like the military aide to read the citation, as these American heroes step forward to receive the Medal of Valor.

MILITARY AIDE:  Special Agent Crystal Griner.  Medal of Valor presented to Special Agent Crystal Griner, U.S. Capitol Police District of Columbia, for bravery and composure while engaged in an active shooter incident.  Despite being shot, Special Agent Griner placed herself in mortal danger to save the lives of members of Congress, attending family members, and congressional staff during a charity softball practice at Eugene Simpson Memorial Park in Alexandria, Virginia.  (Applause.)

Special Agent David Bailey.  Medal of Valor presented to Special Agent David Bailey, U.S. Capitol Police District of Columbia, for taking brave and decisive action to subdue an active shooter.  Special Agent Bailey was shot during the exchange of gunfire, but continued to advance the shooter without benefit of cover until the active shooter was subdued, saving the lives of members of Congress, attending family members, and congressional staff.  (Applause.)

Officer Nicole Battaglia.  Medal of Valor presented to Officer Nicole Battaglia, Alexandria Police Department, Virginia, for demonstrating extraordinary courage in saving the lives of two U.S. Capitol Police officers, members of Congress, their families, and congressional staff.  Officer Battaglia engaged the assailant, exchanging gunfire at close range and ultimately neutralizing him.  (Applause.)

Officer Alexander Jensen.  Medal of Valor presented to Officer Alex Jensen, Alexandria Police Department, Virginia, for swift and valiant action in responding to an active shooter.  Officer Jensen put himself in harm’s way during the active shooter incident, moving without cover and drawing fire from the assailant until the assailant was subdued and the safety of the members of Congress, their families, and congressional staff was ensured.  (Applause.)

Officer Kevin Jobe.  Medal of Valor presented to Officer Kevin Jobe, Alexandria Police Department, Virginia, for placing himself in grave danger to protect two U.S. Capitol Police officers, members of Congress, their families, and congressional staff.  Officer Jobe engaged an active shooter, neutralizing a volatile gunman, and preventing further injuries to innocent bystanders in the park.  (Applause.)

THE PRESIDENT:  Very brave people.  Great people.  Congratulations to all of you. We are forever in your debt. Thank you. God bless you. God bless our truly amazing law enforcement. And God Bless America.  Thank you very much.  Thank you.  (Applause.)

END
3:44 P.M. EDT

Full Text Political Transcripts July 24, 2017: President Donald Trump’s Speech to the Boy Scouts of America at the National Jamboree

POLITICAL TRANSCRIPTS

TRUMP PRESIDENCY & 115TH CONGRESS:

Remarks by President Trump at 2017 National Scout Jamboree

Source: WH, 7-24-17

President TrumpSummit Bechtel National Scout Reserve
Glen Jean, West Virginia

6:32 P.M. EDT

AUDIENCE:  USA!  USA!  USA!

THE PRESIDENT:  Thank you, everybody.  Thank you very much.  (Applause.) I am thrilled to be here.  Thrilled.  (Applause.) And if you think that was an easy trip, you’re wrong, but I am thrilled — 19th Boy Scout Jamboree — wow — and to address such a tremendous group.  Boy, you have a lot of people here.  The press will say it’s about 200 people.  (Laughter.)  It looks like about 45,000 people.  You set a record today.  (Applause.)  You set a record.  That’s a great honor, believe me.

Tonight, we put aside all of the policy fights in Washington, D.C. — you’ve been hearing about with the fake news and all of that.  (Applause.)  We’re going to put that aside.  And instead we’re going to talk about success, about how all of you amazing young Scouts can achieve your dreams.  What to think of — what I’ve been thinking about — you want to achieve your dreams.  I said, who the hell wants to speak about politics when I’m in front of the Boy Scouts?  Right?  (Applause.)

There are many great honors that come with the job of being President of the United States, but looking out at this incredible gathering of mostly young patriots — mostly young — I’m especially proud to speak to you as the honorary President of the Boy Scouts of America.  (Applause.)

AUDIENCE:  USA!  USA!  USA!

THE PRESIDENT:  You are the young people of character and integrity who will serve as leaders in our communities, and uphold the sacred values of our nation.

I want to thank Boy Scouts President Randall Stephenson, Chief Scout Executive Michael Surbaugh, Jamboree Chairman Ralph de la Vega, and the thousands of volunteers who have made this a life-changing experience for all of you, and when they asked me to be here I said absolutely, yes.  (Applause.)

Finally, and we can’t forget these people, I especially want to salute the moms and the dads and troop leaders who are here tonight.  (Applause.)  Thank you for making scouting possible.  Thank you, mom and dad — troop leaders.

When you volunteer for the Boy Scouts, you are not only shaping young lives, you are shaping the future of America.  (Applause.)  The United States has no better citizens than its Boy Scouts.  (Applause.)  No better.  The values, traditions, and skills you learn here will serve you throughout your lives, and just as importantly they will serve your families, your cities, and in the future and in the present, will serve your country.  (Applause.)  The Scouts believe in putting America first.  (Applause.)

You know, I go to Washington and I see all these politicians, and I see the swamp.  And it’s not a good place.  In fact today I said we ought to change it from the word swamp to the word cesspool or, perhaps, to the word sewer.  But it’s not good.  Not good.  (Applause.)  And I see what’s going on, and believe me I’d much rather be with you.  That I can tell you.  (Applause.)

I’ll tell you the reason that I love this and the reason that I really wanted to be here is because as President, I rely on former Boy Scouts every single day, and so do the American people.  It’s amazing how many Boy Scouts we have at the highest level of our great government.  Many of my top advisors in the White House were Scouts.  Ten members of my cabinet were Scouts.  Can you believe that?  Ten.  (Applause.)

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson is not only a Boy Scout, he’s your former national president.  (Applause.)

The Vice President of the United States, Mike Pence — good guy — was a Scout, and it meant so much to him.  (Applause.)  Some of you here tonight might even have camped out in this yard when Mike was the governor of Indiana, but the scouting was very, very important.  And by the way, where are our Indiana Scouts tonight?  (Applause.)  I wonder if the television cameras will follow you.  They don’t like doing that when they see these massive crowds.  They don’t like doing that.  Hi, folks.  (Applause.) A lot of love in this big, beautiful place.  A lot of love, and a lot of love for our country.  There’s a lot of love for our country.

Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke is here tonight.  Come here, Ryan.  (Applause.)  Ryan is an Eagle Scout from Big Sky Country in Montana.  (Applause.)  Pretty good.  And by the way, he is doing a fantastic job.  He makes sure that we leave our national parks and federal lands better than we found them, in the best Scouting tradition.  So thank you very much, Ryan.  (Applause.)

Secretary of Energy Rick Perry, of Texas, an Eagle Scout from the Great State.  (Applause.)  The first time he came to the national jamboree was in 1964.  He was very young then.  And Rick told me just a little while ago, it totally changed his life.  So, Rick, thank you very much for being here.  And we’re doing a lot with energy.  (Applause.)

And very soon, Rick, we will be an energy exporter.  Isn’t that nice — an energy exporter?  (Applause.)  In other words we’ll be selling our energy instead of buying it from everybody all over the globe.  So that’s good.  (Applause.)  We will be energy dominant.  And I’ll tell you what, the folks in West Virginia who were so nice to me, boy, have we kept our promise.  We are going on and on.  So we love West Virginia.  We want to thank you.

Where’s West Virginia by the way?  (Applause.)  Thank you.

Secretary Tom Price is also here.  Today Dr. Price still lives the Scout Oath, helping to keep millions of Americans strong and healthy as our Secretary of Health and Human Services.  And he’s doing a great job.  And hopefully, he’s going to get the votes tomorrow to start our path toward killing this horrible thing known as Obamacare that’s really hurting us, folks.  (Applause.)

AUDIENCE:  USA!  USA!  USA!

THE PRESIDENT:  By the way, you going to get the votes?

He better get them.  He better get them.  Oh, he better — otherwise, I’ll say, Tom, you’re fired.  I’ll get somebody.  (Applause.)

He better get Senator Capito to vote for it.  You got to get the other senators to vote for it.  It’s time.  After seven years of saying repeal and replace Obamacare, we have a chance to now do it.  They better do it.  Hopefully they’ll do it.

As we can see just by looking at our government, in America, Scouts lead the way.  And another thing I’ve noticed — and I’ve noticed it all my life — there is a tremendous spirit with being a Scout, more so than almost anything I can think of.  So whatever is going on, keep doing it.  It’s incredible to watch.  Believe me.  (Applause.)

Each of these leaders will tell you that their road to American success — and you have to understand, their American success, and they are a great, great story was paved with the patriotic American values as traditions they learned in the Boy Scouts.  And some day, many years from now, when you look back on all of the adventures in your lives, you will be able to say the same:  I got my start as a Scout just like these incredibly great people that are doing such a good job for our country.  So that’s going to happen.  (Applause.)

Boy Scout values are American values, and great Boy Scouts become great, great Americans.  As the Scout Law says: “A Scout is trustworthy, loyal” — we could use some more loyalty, I will tell you that.

AUDIENCE:  “helpful, friendly, courteous, kind, obedient, cheerful, thrifty, brave, clean, and reverent.”  (Applause.)

THE PRESIDENT:  That was very impressive.  (Laughter.)  You’ve heard that before.

But here you learn the rewards of hard work and perseverance.  Never ever give up, never quit.  Persevere.  Never, ever quit.

You learn the satisfaction of building a roaring campfire, reaching a mountain summit, or earning a merit badge after mastering a certain skill.  There’s no better feeling than an achievement that you’ve earned with your own sweat, tears, resolve, hard work.  There’s nothing like it.  Do you agree with that?

AUDIENCE:  Yes!

THE PRESIDENT:  I’m waving to people back there so small I can’t even see them.  Man, this is a lot of people.  Turn those cameras back there, please.  That is so incredible.

By the way, what do you think the chances are that this incredible, massive crowd, record-setting is going to be shown on television tonight?  One percent or zero?  (Applause.)

The fake media will say:  President Trump — and you know what this is — President Trump spoke before a small crowd of Boy Scouts today.

That’s some — that is some crowd.  (Applause.)

Fake media.  Fake news.  Thank you.  And I’m honored by that, by the way, all of you people they can’t even see you.  So thank you.  I hope you can hear.

Through scouting you also learn to believe in yourselves — so important — to have confidence in your ability, and to take responsibility for your own life.  When you face down new challenges, and you will have plenty of them, develop talents you never thought possible, and lead your teammates through daring trials, you discover that you can handle anything.  And you learn it by being a scout.  It’s great.  (Applause.)

You can do anything.  You can be anything you want to be.  But in order to succeed, you must find out what you love to do.  You have to find your passion.  No matter what they tell you — if you don’t — I love you, too.  I don’t know.  It’s a nice guy.  (Applause.)  Hey, what am I going to do?  He sounds like a nice person.  He, he, he, he.  Thank you.  I do.  I do love you.

AUDIENCE:  We love Trump!  We love Trump!  We love Trump!

THE PRESIDENT:  By the way, just a question, did President Obama ever come to a jamboree?

AUDIENCE:  No!

THE PRESIDENT:  And we’ll be back.  We’ll be back.  The answer is no, but we’ll be back.

In life, in order to be successful, and you people are well on the road to success, you have to find out what makes you excited.  What makes you want to get up each morning and go to work?  You have to find it.

If you love what you do and dedicate yourself to your work, then you will gain momentum, and look — you have to, you need to.  The word momentum — you will gain that momentum, and each success will create another success.  The word momentum.

I’ll tell you a story that’s very interesting for me when I was young.  There was a man named William Levitt — Levittowns, you have some here, you have some in different states.  Anybody ever hear of Levittown?  (Applause.)  And he was a very successful man.  He was a homebuilder — became an unbelievable success, and got more and more successful.  And he built homes, and at night he’d go to these major sites with teams of people and he’d scour the sites for nails and sawdust and small pieces of wood.  And they’d clean the site so when the workers came in the next morning, the sites would be spotless and clean, and he did it properly.  And he did this for 20 years, and then he was offered a lot of money for his company.

And he sold his company for a tremendous amount of money.  At the time especially — this was a long time ago — sold his company for a tremendous amount of money.  And he went out and bought a big yacht, and he had a very interesting life.  I won’t go any more than that because you’re Boy Scouts, so I’m not going to tell you what he did.

AUDIENCE:  Booo —

THE PRESIDENT:  Should I tell you?  Should I tell you?

AUDIENCE:  Yes!

THE PRESIDENT:  Oh, you’re Boy Scouts, but you know life.  You know life.  So — look at you.  Who would think this is the Boy Scouts, right?

So he had a very, very interesting life, and the company that bought his company was a big conglomerate.  And they didn’t know anything about building homes, and they didn’t know anything about picking up the nails and the sawdust and selling it — and the scraps of wood.  This was a big conglomerate based in New York City, and after about a ten year period they were losing a lot with it.  It didn’t mean anything to them, and they couldn’t sell it.

So they called William Levitt up and they said, would you like to buy back your company, and he said yes, I would.  He so badly wanted it, he got bored with this life of yachts and sailing and all of the things he did in the south of France and other places.  You won’t get bored, right?  You know, truthfully, you’re workers.  You’ll get bored too.  Believe me.  (Applause.)  Of course, having a good few years like that isn’t so bad.  (Applause.)  But what happened is he bought back his company, and he bought back a lot of empty land.  And he worked hard in getting it zoning, and he worked hard on starting to develop.

And in the end he failed, and he failed badly.  Lost all of his money.  He went personally bankrupt, and he was now much older.  And I saw him at a cocktail party, and it was very sad because the hottest people in New York were at this party.  It was the party of Steve Ross who was one of the great people — he came up and discovered — really founded — Time Warner, and he was a great guy.  He had a lot of successful people at the party.

And I was doing well so I got invited to the party.  I was very young, and I go in — but I’m in the real estate business — and I see 100 people, some of whom I recognize and they’re big in the entertainment business.  And I see, sitting in the corner, was a little old man who was all by himself.  Nobody was talking to him.  I immediately recognized that that man was the once great William Levitt of Levittown, and I immediately went over — I wanted to talk to him more than the Hollywood show business communications people.

So I went over and talked to him, and I said, Mr. Levitt, I’m Donald Trump.  He said I know.  I said, Mr. Levitt, how are you doing?  He goes, not well, not well at all.  And I knew that, but he said not well at all.  And he explained what was happening and how bad it has been and how hard it has been.  And I said what exactly happened?  Why did this happen to you?  You’re one of the greats ever in our industry.  Why did this happen to you?  And he said, Donald, I lost my momentum.  I lost my momentum.  A word you never hear when you’re talking about success.  When some of these guys that never made ten cents, they’re on television giving you things about how you’re going to be successful, and the only thing they ever did was a book and a tape.

But I’ll tell you, it was very sad, and I never forgot that moment.  And I thought about it, and it’s exactly true.  He lost his momentum.  Meaning, he took this period of time off long — years — and then when he got back, he didn’t have that same momentum.  In life, I always tell this to people, you have to know whether or not you continue to have the momentum, and if you don’t have it that’s okay.  Because you’re going to go on and you’re going to learn and you’re going to do things that are great.  But you have to know about the word momentum.

But the big thing:  Never quit.  Never give up.  Do something you love.  When you do something you love — as a Scout I see that you love it.  But when you do something that you love you’ll never fail.  What you’re going to do is give it a shot again and again and again.  You’re ultimately going to be successful, and remember this, you’re not working.  Because when you’re doing something that you love like I do — of course I love my business, but this is a little bit different.  Who thought this was going to happen?  We’re having a good time.  We’re doing a good job.  (Applause.)  Doing a good job.  But when you do something that you love, remember this, it’s not work.

So you’ll work 24/7, you’re going to work all the time, and at the end of a year you’re not really working.  You don’t think of it as work.  When you’re not doing something that you like or when you’re forced in to do something that you really don’t like, that’s called work.  And it’s hard work and tedious work.

So as much as you can, do something that you love.  Work hard, and never ever give up, and you’re going to be tremendously successful.  Tremendously successful.  (Applause.)

Now with that, I have to tell you our economy is doing great.  Our stock market has picked up — since the election November 8th.  Do we remember that date?  (Applause.)  Was that a beautiful date?  (Applause.)  What a date.  Do you remember that famous night on television, November 8th, where they said — these dishonest people — where they said there is no path to victory for Donald Trump?  They forgot about the forgotten people.  By the way, they’re not forgetting about the forgotten people anymore.  They’re going crazy trying to figure it out.  But I told them, far too late.  It’s far too late.

But do you remember that incredible night with the maps and the Republicans are red and the Democrats are blue, and that map was so red, it was unbelievable, and they didn’t know what to say?  (Applause.)

And you know we have a tremendous disadvantage in the Electoral College — popular vote is much easier.  Because New York, California, Illinois — you have to practically run the East Coast.  And we did.  We won Florida.  We won South Carolina.  We won North Carolina.  We won Pennsylvania.  (Applause.)

We won and won.  So when they said, there is no way to victory, there is no way to 270.  I went to Maine four times because it’s one vote, and we won.  But we won — one vote.  I went there because I kept hearing we’re at 269.  But then Wisconsin came in.  Many, many years — Michigan came in.

And we worked hard there.  My opponent didn’t work hard there because she was told —

AUDIENCE:  Booo!

THE PRESIDENT:  She was told she was going to win Michigan, and I said, well, wait a minute, the car industry is moving to Mexico.  Why is she going to move — she’s there.  Why are they allowing it to move?

And by the way, do you see those car industry — do you see what’s happening, how they’re coming back to Michigan?  They’re coming back to Ohio.  They’re starting to peel back in.  (Applause.)

And we go to Wisconsin — now, Wisconsin hadn’t been won in many, many years by a Republican.  But we go to Wisconsin, and we had tremendous crowds.  And I’d leave these massive crowds.  I’d say, why are we going to lose this state?

The polls — that’s also fake news.  They’re fake polls.  But the polls are saying — but we won Wisconsin.  (Applause.)  So I have to tell you what we did, in all fairness, is an unbelievable tribute to you and all of the other millions and millions of people that came out and voted for Make America Great Again.  (Applause.)

AUDIENCE:  USA!  USA!  USA!

THE PRESIDENT:  And I’ll tell you what, we are, indeed, making America great again.  What’s going on is incredible.  (Applause.)

We had the best jobs report in 16 years.  The stock market on a daily basis is hitting an all-time high.  We’re going to be bringing back very soon trillions of dollars from companies that can’t get their money back into this country, and that money is going to be used to help rebuild America.  We’re doing things that nobody ever thought was possible.

And we’ve just started.  It’s just the beginning.  Believe me.  (Applause.)

In the Boy Scouts you learn right from wrong, correct?

AUDIENCE:  Yes!

THE PRESIDENT:  You learn to contribute to your communities, to take pride in your nation, and to seek out opportunities to serve.  You pledge to help other people at all times.  (Applause.)

In the Scout Oath, you pledge on your honor to do your best and to do your duty to God and your country.  (Applause.)

And by the way, under the Trump administration, you’ll be saying, merry Christmas again when you go shopping.  Believe me.  Merry Christmas.  (Applause.)

They’ve been downplaying that little, beautiful phrase.  You’re going to be saying, merry Christmas again, folks.  (Applause.)

But the words duty, country, and God are beautiful words.  In other words, basically what you’re doing is you’re pledging to be a great American patriot.  (Applause.)

For more than a century that is exactly what our Boy Scouts have been.  Last year you gave more than 15 million hours of service to helping people in your communities.  (Applause.)

Incredible.  That’s an incredible stat.

All of you here tonight will contribute more than 100,000 hours of service by the end of this jamboree — 100,000.  (Applause.)

When natural disaster strikes, when people face hardship, when the beauty and glory of our outdoor spaces must be restored and taken care of, America turns to the Boy Scouts because we know that the Boy Scouts never, ever, ever let us down.  (Applause.)

Just like you know you can count on me, we know we can count on you because we know the values that you live by.  (Applause.)

Your values are the same values that have always kept America strong, proud, and free.  And by the way, do you see the billions and billions and billions of additional money that we’re putting back into our military?  Billions of dollars.  (Applause.)  New planes, new ships, great equipment for our people that are so great to us.  We love our vets.  We love our soldiers.  And we love our police, by the way.  Firemen, police — we love our police.  (Applause.)   Those are all special people.  Uniformed services.

Two days ago, I traveled to Norfolk, Virginia to commission an American aircraft carrier into the fleet of the United States Navy.  (Applause.)  It’s the newest, largest, and most advanced aircraft carrier anywhere in the world, and it’s named for an Eagle Scout, the USS Gerald R. Ford.  (Applause.)  Everywhere it sails, that great Scout’s name will be feared and revered, because that ship will be a symbol of American power, prestige, and strength.  (Applause.)

Our nation honors President Gerald R. Ford today because he lived his life the scouting way.  Boy Scouts celebrate American patriots, especially the brave members of our armed forces.  Thank you very much.  Thank you.  Thank you.  (Applause.)

American hearts are warmed every year when we read about Boy Scouts placing thousands and thousands of flags next to veterans’ gravesites all across the country.  By honoring our heroes, you help to ensure that their memory never, ever dies.  You should take great pride in the example you set for every citizen of our country to follow.  (Applause.)

Generations of American Boy Scouts have sworn the same oath and lived according to same law.  You inherit a noble American tradition, and as you embark on your lives, never cease to be proud of who you are and the principles you hold dear and stand by.  Wear your values as your badge of honor.  What you’ve done, few have done before you.  What you’ve done is incredible.  What you’ve done is admired by all.  So I want to congratulate you, Boy Scouts.  (Applause.)

Let your scouting oath guide your path from this day forward.  Remember your duty.  Honor your history.  Take care of the people God put into your life, and love and cherish your great country.  (Applause.)

You are very special people.  You’re special in the lives of America.  You’re special to me.  But if you do what we say, I promise you that you will live scouting’s adventure every single day of your life, and you will win, win, win and help people in doing so.  (Applause.)

Your lives will have meaning and purpose and joy.  You will become leaders, and you will inspire others to achieve the dreams they once thought were totally impossible, things that you said could never, ever happen are already happening for you.  And if you do these things — and if you refuse to give in to doubt or to fear — then you will help to make America great again.  You will be proud of yourself, be proud of the uniform you wear, and be proud of the country you love.  (Applause.)

AUDIENCE:  USA!  USA!  USA!

THE PRESIDENT:  And never, ever forget, America is proud of you.  (Applause.)

This is a very, very special occasion for me.  I’ve known so many Scouts over the years.  Winners.  I’ve known so many great people.  They’ve been taught so well, and they love their heritage.  But this is very special for me.  And I just want to end by saying very importantly:  God bless you.  God bless the Boy Scouts.  God bless the United States of America.

Go out.  Have a great time in life.  Compete and go out and show me that there is nobody — nobody — like a Boy Scout.

Thank you very much, everybody.  Thank you very much.  Thank you.  Thank you very much.  (Applause.)

END
7:10 P.M. EDT

 

 

Full Text Political Transcripts July 22, 2017: President Donald Trump’s Speech at Commissioning Ceremony for the USS Gerald R. Ford (CVN-78)

POLITICAL TRANSCRIPTS

TRUMP PRESIDENCY & 115TH CONGRESS:

Remarks by President Trump at Commissioning Ceremony for the USS Gerald R. Ford (CVN-78)

Source: WH, 7-22-17

President Trump

Gerald R. Ford (CVN-78)
Newport News, Virginia

11:09 A.M. EDT

THE PRESIDENT:  Thank you very much, Secretary Mattis, for that wonderful introduction and for your devoted service to our nation.  Nobody has done it like you.  I’m thrilled to be back on this magnificent ship for this historic moment with the amazing men and women of the United States Navy.  (Applause.)

I was with you four months ago, and I knew that I had to be here today, and I told you I’d be back to congratulate you and the crew and everybody involved on commissioning the newest, largest, and most advanced aircraft carrier in the history of this world.  That’s a big achievement.

After today, wherever this ship sails, you will all carry a proud title: plankowner of the USS Gerald R. Ford. (Applause.)  For the rest of your lives, you’ll be able to tell your friends and family that you served on the greatest ship in the United States Navy and, in my opinion, on the greatest ship anywhere in the world.  Everyone should take a moment to celebrate this incredible achievement.

I want to thank the many public servants who have joined us here today: Treasury Secretary Mnuchin, Governor Snyder, Governor McAuliffe, Senator Wicker, and members of Congress, Secretary Stackley, Admiral Richardson, senior military leaders, and, of course, the great Captain McCormack.  (Applause.)

Captain, I know you will exemplify integrity at the helm.  And have a good time doing it, Captain.  Proud of you.

Thanks to the entire Ford family — Susan, Jack, Steve, and Mike — for all that you’ve done to support this ship on its voyage.  Thank you, Susan.  (Applause.)  Thank you.

I also want to recognize two other people who were very special to President Ford.  Thank you, Vice President Cheney and former Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld.  Thank you.  (Applause.)  They look great.  They look great.

As we put this stunning ship into the service of our nation, we must also pay tribute to the thousands of citizens, military and civilian, who helped design and build her.  Their love of country has been poured into every rivet and bulkhead on this vessel.  You hammered, chiseled, and sculpted this mighty hull.

You were there when the first steel was cut, when the turbines first roared to life, and when those beautiful bronze propellers first began to spin — and spin they did.  And now you are here to witness the moment when your incredible work of art becomes the pride of the United States Navy and a symbol of American power and prestige, no matter where in the world you go.

American steel and American hands have constructed a 100,000-ton message to the world:  American might is second to none, and we’re getting bigger, and better, and stronger every day of my administration.  That I can tell you.  (Applause.)

Wherever this vessel cuts through the horizon, our allies will rest easy and our enemies will shake with fear because everyone will know that America is coming and America is coming strong.  (Applause.)

To every worker from Newport News Shipbuilding and every craftsman and engineer who helped build this incredible fortress on the sea, today we salute you.  Thank you.  (Applause.)

Your skill and your grit build the instruments of war that preserve peace.  This ship is the deterrent that keeps us from having to fight in the first place.  But this ship also ensures that if a fight does come, it will always end the same way; we will win, win, win.  We will never lose.  We will win.  (Applause.)

When it comes to battle, we don’t want a fair fight.  We want just the opposite.  We demand victory, and we will have total victory, believe me.  (Applause.)

Having the best technology and equipment is only one part of the American military dominance.  Our true strength is our people.  Our greatest weapon is all of you.  Our nation endures because we have citizens who love America and who are willing to fight for America.  (Applause.)  We are so very blessed with warriors who are willing to serve America in the greatest fighting force in the history — the United States military.

Today this ship officially begins its role in the noble military history of our great nation.  In a few moments, I will commission this wonderful, beautiful, but very, very powerful warship.  Captain McCormack will assume command.  He will set the first watch, and then the crew of the Gerald R. Ford will man the ship and bring her to life.  (Applause.)

A ship is only as good as the people who serve on it, and the American sailor is the best anywhere in the world.  Among you are great welders, radar technicians, machine operators, and pilots.  You take pride in your work and America takes pride in you.  We love you.  We are proud of you.  Thank you.  (Applause.)

But that is why it is so fitting that this ship is named after a sailor of tremendous character, integrity, and wisdom.  You know that, Susan.  Gerald Ford was raised in American heartland.  He grew up in Grand Rapids and became an Eagle Scout.  He played football at the University of Michigan on a team that won two national championships.  And listen to this:  On that great team, he was named MVP.  Not bad.

He then went to Yale Law School, and after Pearl Harbor, he volunteered to serve.  President Ford joined the Navy and asked to be sent to sea.  He wanted to do that very badly.  He never really knew why; he felt it was a calling.  He was assigned to a new carrier — the Monterey — becoming a plankowner himself on its commissioning in 1943.

From there, he sailed to the Pacific and saw action — and a lot of action — in the Pacific War.  Like so many others of his generation, Gerald Ford returned home and started a family.  He ran for Congress, where he served the people of Michigan with honor for many years.  From there, he became Vice President and then President of the United States of America.

With this ship, we honor him for his lifetime of selfless and distinguished service.  We also remember his wife, Betty — I remember her well — and we honor the bravery she showed in living her life so that her experiences could help others.  Susan, she was a great woman — a great woman.  (Applause.)

Gerald Ford said that his time in the Navy convinced him that our lack of military preparation before World War II has only encouraged our enemies to fight harder and harder and harder.  He learned a lot.  In the future, Ford said, I felt the United States had to be strong.  Never again could we allow our military to be anything but the absolute best.  If he could see this ship today, President Gerald Ford would see his vision brought to life, and he would see his legacy of service being carried on by each and every one of you.  (Applause.)

Gerald Ford embodied American values like few others: love of family, love of freedom, and, most of all, love of country.  He knew that patriotism is the heartbeat of a nation.  He knew that we must love our country in order to protect it.  And he knew that we must have pride in our history if we are going to have confidence in our future.

The men and women of America’s Armed Services are part of a living history.  You uphold timeless customs and traditions, and you protect our nation and our freedom for the next generation to come.  You are fulfilling your duty to this nation, and now it is the job of our government to fulfill its duty to you.  (Applause.)

For years, our government has subjected the military to unpredictable funding and a devastating defense sequester.  You remember that?  Sequester — not good.  This has led to deferred maintenance, a lack of investment in new equipment and technology, and a shortfall in military readiness.  In other words, it’s been a very, very bad period of time for our military.  That is why we reached a deal to secure an additional $20 billion for defense this year — and it’s going up — and why I asked Congress for another $54 billion for next year.

Now we need Congress to do its job and pass the budget that provides for higher, stable, and predictable funding levels for our military needs that our fighting men and women deserve — and you will get, believe me.  President Trump, I will tell you — you will get it.  Don’t worry about it.  But I don’t mind getting a little hand, so call that congressman and call that senator and make sure you get it.  (Applause.)

And by the way, you can also call those senators to make sure you get healthcare.  (Applause.)

We must end the defense sequester once and for all.  We must also reform defense acquisitions to ensure that we are getting the best equipment at the best prices so that our dollars are used only for the best interests of our country and those who serve.  We do not want cost overruns.  We want the best equipment, but we want it built ahead of schedule and we want it build under budget.  (Applause.)

This is the very least we can do for the patriots who have volunteered to give their sweat, their blood, and, if they must, their very lives for our great nation.  The commissioning of this new American carrier marks the renewal of our commitment to a future of American greatness.  Greater than ever before, remember that — greater than ever before.

Just moments from now, the Captain will set the first watch on the USS Gerald R. Ford and, with God’s grace, a watch will stand until the day she is decommissioned 50 years or more from now.

Most of you who will man this ship today are just about 20 years old.  Together, you are embarking on a truly great adventure.  The journey will require all of your talents, all of your efforts, and all of your heart.  As you know, the sea holds many challenges and threats.  But starting today, you will face, together as a team aboard this ship, which is your responsibility and your home.

Three generations of Americans will eventually man these decks.  Perhaps even some of your own children and grandchildren someday.  You will inspire many more American patriots to follow your lead and to serve.  And one day, when you are old and have lived a long and hopefully happy and successful life, you may find yourselves back aboard this ship surrounded by your family to mark its decommissioning.  And on that day, our entire nation will honor not just this carrier, it will honor you and the role you will have played in keeping America safe, strong, and free.

To every patriot who will serve on this ship today and throughout history, I say this:  Keep the watch, protect her, defend her, and love her.  Good luck and Godspeed.  Thank you to the Ford family, and thank you to every sailor in the greatest navy on Earth.  God bless you, God bless the Gerald R. Ford, and God bless the United States of America.  Thank you very much.  God bless you all.  (Applause.)

CAPTAIN MCCORMACK:  Thank you, Mr. President.  And I would be honored if you would place Gerald R. Ford in commission.

Will the guests please rise.  Ship’s company, attention.

THE PRESIDENT:  I hereby place United States Ship Gerald R. Ford in commission.  May God bless and guide this warship and all who shall sail in her.  God bless you.  Thank you.  (Applause.)

END
11:27 A.M. EDT

Full Text Political Transcripts July 17, 2017: Vice President Mike Pence’s Speech at Christians United for Israel Washington Summit

POLITICAL TRANSCRIPTS

TRUMP PRESIDENCY & 115TH CONGRESS:

July 17, 2017

Remarks by the Vice President at Christians United for Israel Washington Summit

Source: WH, 7-17-17

Washington Convention Center
Washington, D.C.

8:48 P.M. EDT

THE VICE PRESIDENT:  Hello, CUFI!  (Applause.)  Thank you, Pastor John Hagee, Ambassador Dermer, distinguished members of Congress, honored guests, my fellow believers and friends, it is humbling for me to be before you today to join you at the 12th annual summit of the largest pro-Israel organization in the United States of America — Christians United for Israel!  (Applause.)

It’s great to be back with so many friends.  And to all of you — I bring greetings from another friend.  I just left him a few moments ago.  He is a leader, a believer, and a tireless friend of the Jewish state of Israel — the 45th President of the United States, President Donald Trump.  (Applause.)

Thanks to the support of so many in this room and your prayers, last November President Trump won a historic victory — more counties than any President since Ronald Reagan, 30 of 50 states — no Republican had carried in a generation.  The truth is President Donald Trump turned the blue wall red, and you made it happen.  (Applause.)

Now as the Good Book says: If you owe debts, pay debts.  If honor, then honor.  If respect, then respect.  And I’m really here on the President’s behalf and on our entire team’s behalf to pay a debt of gratitude to all of you who helped elect a President who is fighting every single day to defend faith, restore freedom, and strengthen America’s unbreakable bond with our most cherished ally, Israel.  (Applause.)

Just last month, President Trump made a historic visit to Israel.  I know all of you were watching from afar.  One of the very first countries our President visited since he took office, standing in Jerusalem, in that ancient and holy city, our President declared for all the world to hear that under his leadership, the United States of America “will always stand with Israel.”  (Applause.)

In Jerusalem, our President said that the bond between America and Israel in his words “is woven together in the hearts of our people” — and Christians United for Israel proves this statement true every single day all across this country.

You know, it was only 11 years ago that my friend Pastor John Hagee had the courage and the vision to unite American Christians to rally around those ancient words “for Zion’s sake, I will not keep silent.”  And, Pastor John Hagee, I thank you for your leadership on behalf of this nation and the Jewish state of Israel.  (Applause.)

And today, through Christians United for Israel, more than 3.3 million believers have raised their voices, have not been silent in support of Israel, and you can be heard in every city and town across America and in every office on Capitol Hill.  And rest assured, the man down the street at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue hears you, too.  (Applause.)

Now for my part, Karen and I have always treasured our relationship with Christians United for Israel.  I had the honor to speak to this great group when I was a member of Congress.  I worked hand-in-hand with CUFI when I was governor of the state of Indiana.  And with the support and prayers of men and women gathered in this room, I’m proud to say in my last year as governor, it was my great privilege to sign one of the strongest anti-BDS laws in the America to ensure that our state never does business with those who seek to inflict financial damage on Israel.  (Applause.)  Because boycott, divestment, and sanctions have no place in my home state and no place in America.  (Applause.)

It’s humbling to stand before you today for another reason because it was just one year ago this past weekend that the phone rang at the governor’s residence, and there was a familiar voice on other line.  And I remember when that call came and when the invitation came to join this national ticket, I couldn’t help but think of that ancient verses:  Who am I and who is my family, that you’ve brought me this far?

So tonight, let me just take a moment to thank all of you men and women of CUFI, and all those you represent around America, thank you for your friendship, your support, and your prayers every step of the way on the journey my little family has taken throughout my career.  It’s hard for me to express before you friends of so many years the humility and gratitude I feel today to stand before you today as the 48th Vice President of the United States of America.  From the bottom of my heart, thank you.  (Applause.)

My friends, to look at Israel is to see that the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob keeps his promises, keeps the promises He makes to His people and to each one of us.

Ezekiel prophesized:  “Behold, I will cause breath to enter into you, and ye shall live.”  And the State of Israel and her people bear witness to God’s faithfulness, as well as their own.

How unlikely was Israel’s birth, how more unlikely has been her survival, and how confounding, against the odds, has been her thriving.

Since the moment of their independence, the Jewish people have awed the world with their strength of will and their strength of character.

Indeed, anyone with eyes to see and ears to hear must acknowledge that Israel is a living testimony to the power of hope over hate and so will she always be.  (Applause.)

The Jewish people have turned the desert into a garden, sickness into health, scarcity into plenty, despair into hope, and slander into blessings — rebuking all who condemn them; not for what they do wrong, but for what they do right.

And under President Donald Trump, if the world knows nothing else, the world will know this:  America stands with Israel.  Now and always.  (Applause.)

President Trump and I stand with Israel for the same reason every freedom-loving American stands with Israel — because her cause is our cause, her values are our values, and her fight is our fight.

And President Trump is actually a lifelong friend of Israel.  I’ve seen his passion firsthand in the President’s deep affection for Israel.  The morning after the election, I was actually in the room when Prime Minister Netanyahu called to congratulate the President on his great victory.  I heard President Trump express his unwavering support for Israel and the Jewish people that morning, support he reiterated when he welcomed the Prime Minister to the White House.

And just last month, the world saw our President’s commitment to Israel during that visit to Jerusalem, when President Donald Trump declared that America’s “deep and lasting friendship” with Israel will only in his words “grow deeper and stronger as we work together in the days ahead.”  (Applause.)

For my part, like all of you, my passion for Israel springs from my Christian faith.  The songs of the land and the people of Israel were the anthems of my youth.  As for me and my house, we pray for the peace of Jerusalem and all who call her home.  It’s really the greatest privilege of my life to serve as Vice President to a President who cares so deeply for our most cherished ally.

And let me say with confidence to all gathered here and to all of the watching world, President Trump and I stand without apology for Israel today.  We will stand without apology for Israel tomorrow, and President Donald Trump and I will stand with the Israel always — of that you may be assured.  (Applause.)

You just need to look at the actions our President has taken since he took office.  Like when he named Governor Nikki Haley to be America’s Ambassador to the United Nations.  (Applause.)

At the President’s direction, Ambassador Haley has been standing up for America and she’s been standing up for Israel.  And as Ambassador Haley said just a short while ago, in her words, “The days of Israel-bashing at the United Nations are over.”  (Applause.)

And the President also named David Friedman to represent our country in Israel as our ambassador.  David is an unabashed advocate for a stronger America-Israel relationship, and our friendship is already stronger with him in our embassy in Israel.

And to the men and women of Christians United for Israel, this President hears you.  This President stands with you.  And I promise you that the day will come when President Donald Trump moves the American Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.  It is not a question of if, it is only when.  (Applause.)

President Trump is also personally committed to helping the parties resolve the long-standing Israeli-Palestinian conflict.  In addition to his own visit to Israel, the President has dispatched several of his top advisors to help guide negotiations.  But our President I can assure knows any peace requires an end to the incitement of hatred, an end to any support whatsoever of terrorism.  And above all else, a lasting peace requires true and complete Palestinian willingness to accept and recognize the Jewish state of Israel.  (Applause.)

And while there will undoubtedly have to be compromises, let me assure all of you gathered here today, President Donald Trump will never compromise the safety and security of the Jewish state of Israel — not now, not ever.  (Applause.)

Since the moment of its birth, there has hardly been a day when Israelis have lived without war, or the fear of war, or the grim reality of terror.  We were reminded of this just last Friday, when three gunmen ambushed a group of Israeli police officers in the very heart of Jerusalem.  Two brave officers were murdered in this barbaric act of terrorism.  We mourn with those who mourn and grieve with those who grieve.  We grieve with the families of these fallen heroes of Israel, and the prayers of our President, our family, and all who cherish Israel are with these heroic law enforcement officers and their families.  (Applause.)

And so is our resolve.  President Trump has made it clear: America stands shoulder-to-shoulder with Israel, as together we confront those enemies who threaten our people, our freedom, and our very way of life.

America and Israel are united together as friends and allies in the West.  Just a few weeks ago, in Warsaw, Poland — home to so much Jewish history, and so much Jewish heartache, our President defined our struggle with moral clarity, courage, and vision more than any President since Ronald Reagan when President Trump declared in his words:  “The West will never, ever be broken.  Our values will prevail.  Our people will thrive, and our civilization will triumph.”  (Applause.)

We will triumph because our courage and conviction cannot be matched, and for that matter, neither can our strength.

Today, America’s support for Israel’s security is at record levels.  And America now has a President who is fighting every day to rebuild our military.

And under President Donald Trump I promise you we’re going to rebuild this military.  We’re going to restore the arsenal of democracy.  And we’re once again going to give our soldiers, sailors, airmen, Marines, and Coast Guard the resources and training they need and deserve to accomplish their mission and come home safe.  (Applause.)

In President Trump, America once again has a leader who will stand with our allies and stand up to our enemies.  And this President calls our enemies by their name.  And at this very moment I’m proud to report, the Armed Forces of the United States of America are taking the fight to ISIS terrorist on our terms and on their soil.  And under this Commander-in-Chief, we will continue to fight ISIS until we wipe them off the face of the Earth.  (Applause.)

And under President Trump America will continue to stand strong, continue to stand strong in the face of the leading state sponsor of terrorism.  President Trump has put Iran on notice:  America will no longer tolerate Iran’s efforts to destabilize the region and jeopardize Israel’s security.

And let me be clear on this point:  Under President Donald Trump, the United States of America will not allow Iran to develop a useable nuclear weapon.  This is our solemn promise to the American people, to the people of Israel, and to the world.  (Applause.)

So we stand with Israel.  We stand with Israel today and every day, because the American people throughout our history have always cherished Israel.

We stand with Israel because our bond was knit millennia ago in the finery of faith.  And we stand with Israel because millions of Americans throughout the generations of this country have embraced that ancient truth and admonition that He will bless those who bless her, and he will curse those who curse her.

Indeed, though Israel was built by human hands, it is impossible not to sense that just beneath its history, lies the hand of heaven.  (Applause.)

Over the mantle of our home, since the year I was first elected to Congress, are framed words that have long inspired my family.  We had them over the fireplace in our home in a small town in southern Indiana.  We had them over the fireplace at the governor’s residence in Indianapolis, and now they hang over the mantle of the home of the Vice President of the United States.

They’re words of confidence and faith.  They’re words to which my family has repaired to as generations of Americans have done so throughout our history, and the people of Israel through all their storied history have clung.  They come from the Book of Jeremiah, and it simply reads:  “For I know the plans I have for you, plans to prosper you, and not to harm you, plans to give you a hope, and a future.”

These words are as true today for all people of faith as they were in millennia past.  And so I encourage you to embrace them.  I urge the men and women of Christians United for Israel to cling to that hope and that promise, and I urge you to do particularly what you’ve done exceedingly well these many years, to continue to bow the head, to bend the knee, and to pray.  Pray for our most cherished ally.  Pray for the peace of Jerusalem and pray that God will continue to bless America.

And when you pray, pray with confidence because our God is a faithful God, and He will guide us, and He will guard us as we go forth and do His work.  (Applause.)

And so I thank you for the honor of joining you once again in this new capacity.  And I close tonight saying simply from my heart as I look out on this shining crowd, and I see the support that you represent all across this country for our most cherished ally.  And I have faith.  I have faith that with God’s help and with the men and women gathered here, with all those who cherish Israel, and with President Donald Trump in the White House, the best days for Israel and for America together are yet to come.  (Applause.)

Thank you.  God bless you.  God bless the Jewish state of Israel and God bless the United States of America.  (Applause.)

END
9:12 P.M. EDT

 

Full Text Political Transcripts July 14, 2017: Vice President Mike Pence’s Speech at the National Governors Association

POLITICAL TRANSCRIPTS

TRUMP PRESIDENCY & 115TH CONGRESS:

Remarks by the Vice President at the National Governors Association

Source: WH, 7-14-17

Rhode Island Convention Center
Providence, Rhode Island

1:30 P.M. EDT

THE VICE PRESIDENT:  Well, thank you all.  It is wonderful to be here.

To Prime Minister Trudeau, Governor McAuliffe — thank you for that warm introduction and that warm welcome — to Governor Sandoval, to all the Governors of these United States, especially our host, to Gina Raimondo, to all the distinguished guests who are here with us today — it is an honor to be back in Rhode Island at the 109th annual Summer Meeting of the National Governors Association.  (Applause.)

And I bring greetings today from my friend, a champion of federalism who is fighting every single day to restore power to the states and to the people, the 45th President of the United States of America, President Donald Trump.  (Applause.)

The President is actually returning as we speak from France, where he celebrated America’s first and oldest alliance with great pageantry and a productive meeting.  I spoke to the President aboard Air Force One this morning, and he asked me to convey his thanks to all of you for your service to your states and to give you his best regards.  And our President sent me and several members of our Cabinet here to reaffirm our administration’s commitment to partner with each and every one of you to advance the security and prosperity of all of the American people and all of the states across this country.  (Applause.)

For me, it’s great to be back at the NGA.  I’m, frankly, very humbled — very humbled to be with so many of the leaders I had the privilege to serve with when I was governor of the state of Indiana.  It’s amazing for me to think — my wife and I reflected on it this morning — that it was one year ago this weekend that the phone call came, and my life changed.  I reflected this morning on that ancient verse that I often thought about in those days:  Who am I, oh Lord, and who is my family that you brought me this far.

So let me just take this personal opportunity to say thank you to all of you.  Thank you for your friendship, your encouragement, and the prayers that have enabled us to serve in this new capacity.  It is great to be back with America’s governors.  (Applause.)

I’m here as your Vice President, but I want you to know that I bring the perspective of a former governor, to your discussions this weekend.  When I was a governor, I’d often come to Washington, D.C. representing my state’s interest, and my greatest hope was that I’d have an administration that would listen to me and work with me to improve the lives of the hardworking people of Indiana.  Well let me give you this promise:  Every governor in America has all that and more in President Donald Trump.

You heard it from the President himself when he addressed the NGA at the White House during your winter meeting earlier this year.  As the President said, “Under my administration, we’re going to have a true partnership of collaboration and cooperation with the states.”  And he meant every word of it.

Since day one of our administration, President Trump has been delivering on this promise.  In the past six months, President Trump has met with governors from no fewer than 47 states, individually, and five territories — including all of you that are gathered here today.  In June alone, President Trump welcomed 19 governors to the White House, and he met with three more on the road.  President Trump has involved you in our policy discussions, and let me assure you, this President values your continued input on issues ranging from infrastructure to energy to tax cuts to healthcare and so much more.

And if you haven’t noticed, this President likes to hire governors.   (Laughter.)  Not just present company, but I’m talking about our United Nations Ambassador Nikki Haley; Secretary of Energy Rick Perry; our Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue; and the new United States Ambassador to China, who was the longest-serving Governor in American history, Ambassador Terry Branstad.  Let’s give all these former governors a round of applause.  (Applause.)

It really has been a privilege for me to continue to work so closely with all of you on the President’s behalf.  In February, Karen and I enjoyed welcoming many of you to the Vice President’s Residence in Washington, D.C. — the first time all of America’s governors, I was told, have ever been invited to the Naval Observatory, and we were honored that so many came.

Now my wife couldn’t be with us today.  She’s picking our daughter up from the airport — been doing some foreign travel.  But let me personally extend the President’s and our family’s heartfelt appreciation to the most important people in the room today:  the spouses and family members of those who serve as governors across this nation.  Could you give a round of applause to our spouses and family members that support the leadership of these great leaders?  (Applause.)

The truth is, America’s governors have a friend in President Donald Trump, and it doesn’t matter whether you’re a Republican or a Democrat.  And this President’s agenda will strengthen every state across this country.  I like to say that our President has a three-part agenda:  Jobs, jobs, and jobs.  And to be around him for any period of time, you know he’s focused on prosperity in this country, as more than anything else other than security.

The President has taken decisive action from the outset of this administration to put America back to work and get our economy moving again.  This President has signed more laws slashing job-killing red tape out of Washington, D.C. than any President in American history.  It’s already saved businesses and individuals up to $18 billion a year in regulatory cost.

And our President has been busy unleashing American energy.  He’s opening the way for more offshore drilling, rolling back the Clean Power Plan, and the President has approved the Keystone and Dakota pipelines to strengthen the energy infrastructure of this nation.  And speaking of infrastructure, President Trump has already begun the process of rebuilding American infrastructure.  And in partnership with governors like you, I promise you, before this session of Congress is out,  we’re going to pass an infrastructure bill that will rebuild America, and we’re going to work with each and every one of you to bring that about.  (Applause.)

This President has also taken decisive action to ensure that America’s trade deals are both free and fair.  Thanks to the President’s leadership, last month American companies were able to ship American beef to China for the first time in over 13 years.

The President has also opened up a new economic dialogue he asked me to lead with the nation of Japan, to strengthen our trade relationship with our valued ally.

And in the coming weeks, President Trump, and our nation will renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement with Canada and Mexico.  And under this President’s leadership, we will modernize NAFTA for the 21st century so it is a win-win-win for all of our trading partners in North America.  (Applause.)

Now I know you’ll be hearing from Prime Minister Trudeau in just a few minutes.  And let me assure you the United States and Canada have already built a remarkably strong relationship under these two leaders, and the investment relationship that we enjoy today is worth more than $620 billion a year.  And we’re grateful for the Prime Minister’s leadership and his early outreach to this administration.  President Trump recognized that every trade relationship can improve, and as the Prime Minister knows, we’re looking forward to bringing NAFTA into the future in a way that will equally benefit both our countries.

The truth is, President Trump’s leadership is already making a difference, and I know you see it in your states every single day.  Under this President’s watch, businesses large and small have already created more than 800,000 new private sector jobs since the first of this year.  Company after company are making record investments in state after state — billions of dollars, tens of thousands of jobs.  And the stock market is soaring, closing at record highs again this week.

And with the continued input of America’s governors, President Trump is going to work with this Congress to drive forward an agenda for a more prosperous America of lower taxes, less regulation, more American energy, better infrastructure, better trade deals and yes, President Donald Trump is going to lead this Congress to rescue the American people from the collapsing policies of Obamacare.  (Applause.)

As a former governor myself, I know just how important healthcare is to each and every one of you as you lead your states.  The simple truth, though, is Obamacare is imploding all across America, and working families and small businesses are paying the price every day.  Our administration has found that the average premium on the individual market has more than doubled since Obamacare went into effect less than four years ago, and in many states, including some represented here, it’s more than tripled.

When Obamacare passed, we were promised that families would save up to $2,500 in premiums, but the average Obamacare plan today costs nearly $3,000 more than the average plan did in 2013.  And while costs are skyrocketing, choices are plummeting.

On Monday, our administration announced that 38 percent fewer health insurers plan on participating in Obamacare exchanges next year, and the number could rise, leaving millions of Americans with even fewer choices.  And come next year, 40 percent of American counties, including nine whole states, will have only one choice in a health insurance provider, meaning they essentially have no choice at all.  Even worse, dozens of counties will have no health insurance providers whatsoever on the Obamacare exchange in 2018.

I know you know these facts, because as governors you’re living that reality, not far afield in Washington, D.C. looking at statistics, but you’re seeing the impact of these failed policies each and every day in communities and enterprises across your state.  I don’t have to tell any of the governors gathered around here, whatever your politics, whatever your party, you know we’re talking about real people and you know we’re talking about a real crisis.  Because behind every number is a name, and behind every name is a story.

Since early this year, the President has had me traveling across the country to many of your states, and I’ve always made a point to sit down with your local citizens and local businesses to hear the story about the hardship that Obamacare has placed in your communities.  I’ve heard stories from small-business owners, working families, and parents with disabled children who have suffered terribly under the collapsing weight of this policy.  People like Julie Roberts, who I met with earlier this week in Lexington, Kentucky.  At her small business, premiums have spiked 25 percent every year under Obamacare and deductibles have tripled.

Then there’s Connie Mays, who has lived in the same small town in Ohio her entire life.  She has a disability she told me about.  It’s made her life tough, but she’s found her way forward.  But when Obamacare became law, she told me that she lost her health insurance plan, she lost her doctor, and today no healthcare provider in her county will take her Obamacare coverage.  So she essentially has no coverage at all.  She literally had tears in her eyes sitting next to me at the White House when she told me the story that that card in her pocketbook was essentially meaningless because no one in her home county would take it.

There’s Julie Champine from Wisconsin, who I met when I was visiting Governor Walker, whose health insurance costs increased so much that last year she told me with genuine emotion in her voice that she had to choose between paying for her Obamacare coverage and buying Christmas presents for her grandkids.  She literally took that preemptive three months where she could skip making her payments and skip coverage just so she could afford to buy some Christmas presents for her kids and grandkids.

I don’t have to tell all of you.  I mean, these stories are not rare, but they’re all heartbreaking.  They’re not the exception, they’re the rule.  But as I told each and every one of those that I mentioned and people all across this country:  Help is on the way.  We’re going to give the American people access to the kind of world-class healthcare every American deserves.  (Applause.)

I’m pleased to report, as you already know, just yesterday Senate leadership unveiled a new version of the Senate healthcare bill, and President Trump and I urge every member of the Senate to support it.  President Trump and I believe the Senate healthcare bill is the right bill at the right time to begin the end of Obamacare and rescue the American people from this failed policy.  And we look forward to the Senate taking up this bill as early as next week.

Now, President Trump laid out his vision for American healthcare months ago.  The President said he wanted a healthcare system that in his words is “far less expensive and far better.”  And we believe the Senate healthcare bill begins to make the President’s vision a reality.

The bill introduced in the Senate puts America back on the path to better, more affordable healthcare for every American.  The Senate healthcare bill repeals Obamacare’s individual and business mandates, and cuts taxes on American families and American businesses, restoring freedom and it will create jobs.

The Senate healthcare bill doubles the contribution limits for health savings accounts.  And for the first time ever, it allows health savings accounts to cover insurance premiums.  The bill also offers tax credits to help Americans buy the coverage they want at a price they can afford.  And the legislation ensures that every American with preexisting conditions has access to the coverage and care they need — no exceptions.  (Applause.)

And if you take nothing else from what I say today, know that the Senate healthcare bill gives states the freedom to redesign your health insurance markets.  And, most significantly, under this legislation, states across the country will have an unprecedented level of flexibility to reform Medicaid and bring better coverage, better care, and better outcomes to the most vulnerable in your states.

Now, I’m not speaking so much right now as your Vice President, but let me speak to you as a former governor and as someone who Terry McAuliffe pointed out — I made the decision in Indiana to expand Medicaid under a waiver.  I mean, you all know your states, you know your people.  You know how to create the innovative solutions to address the unique healthcare needs of the people of your states.  And I had that very same attitude when I was a governor.

But most of you also know that, under previous administrations — frankly, in both political parties — it’s been difficult, if not at times impossible, for states to act on your own ideas.  I actually learned that firsthand.

Right after I was elected governor, in early 2013, I went straight to work developing a serious Medicaid reform plan that would put vulnerable and low-income Hoosiers more in charge of their own healthcare decisions that would expand access to healthcare providers across the state.

Working with a remarkably talented woman whom I’m proud to say is now the Administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, we created a plan based on consumer-directed healthcare.  Indiana at the time, as some of you know, was home to a small pilot project that had promising results in that area.  And we believed that we could expand coverage in the state the Indiana way, in ways that would improve access and improve healthcare outcomes for our most vulnerable.  And we went straight to work.

But when we submitted our waiver to the prior administration to implement our plan, we — as many of you can attest in prior administrations — we encountered roadblocks and bureaucracy in Washington, D.C.

It took our state more than two years for the federal government to approve our waiver.  And even then, they, frankly, rejected an awful lot of what we were trying to do.  I know many of you have submitted waiver requests over recent years to Washington, D.C. and had the same result.

Now, President Trump and I both believe that governors should have the freedom to design and implement the reforms in healthcare that will work in your states.  And we’re going to fight to make that a reality in Washington, D.C.  (Applause.)

President Donald Trump is dedicated to getting the federal government out of your way and allowing you to develop those unique solutions that will work for the people of your state.  As the President told you in February, the federal government, in his words, should be not in your way but working with you to deliver needed reforms and services.  And that’s our commitment again today.

Now, tomorrow you’re going to hear from Secretary Tom Price from the Department of Health and Human Services, who accompanied me here today, and Administrator Seema Verma about our President’s commitment to work with each and every one of you.  Earlier this year, they sent a letter to every governor in America, in their words, to affirm the President’s partnership with all of your states.

And I got to tell you — and I hope you’ve already had this experience — Secretary Tom Price and Administrator Seema Verma, we’ve got the A-team.  They’re fighting for you.  They’re fighting for the states’ ability to innovate and meet the needs of our most vulnerable, and improve our healthcare system.  And I’d like you to give them a round of applause.  (Applause.)

As you’ve heard from those Cabinet officials, and I’m here to say again today:  Our administration wants you to innovate.  We want you to improve your own health insurance markets and strengthen your Medicaid programs.  And I promise you that this administration will work with you in a timely way so that you can move forward with the policies and plans that are best for your states and your citizens.

And a case in point:  Just a few days ago, Administrator Verma approved a state innovation waiver for Alaska to lower premiums and improve access to care for thousands of Alaskans.  And, Governor, we commend you for your leadership.

Our administration is committed to working with you as partners.  And the good news is that the Senate’s healthcare bill will expand state freedom and flexibility to an even greater degree than the law permits our administration to extend today.  The bill actually rolls back restrictions on waivers, giving states the ability to stabilize your insurance markets after they’ve been virtually destroyed in recent years.

And when it comes to Medicaid, not only does the Senate’s healthcare bill expand state flexibility, it ensures that every state in America has the resources you need to take care of your most vulnerable.

As a former governor who expanded Medicaid in our state with consumer-directed healthcare, I have to tell you I understand and appreciate, as the President does, the concerns that many of you have as we talk about Medicaid in the future going forward.  Our administration has paid very close attention to this issue, and we’ve had discussions with governors around this room and around the country.

So let me be clear:  President Trump and I believe the Senate healthcare bill strengthens and secures Medicaid for the neediest in our society.  And this bill puts this vital America program on a path to long-term sustainability.

Under the Senate healthcare bill, federal Medicaid spending will be $300 billion to $500 billion higher over the next decade relative to current amounts, ensuring that our states have the ability to provide for the most vulnerable and give them the care that they’re counting on.

And when it comes to receiving this funding, your states will have two options — a per-capita cap or a block grant.

The per-capita cap gives each state the money you need to cover Medicaid’s traditional beneficiaries, who need the most assistance.

And with the block grant option, you’ll be able to determine how to best use your Medicaid dollars.  And you can provide for your most vulnerable in ways that’s best for your state.

At the same time, the Senate healthcare bill creates a stability fund in addition to that that states can use to help people obtain personal coverage as they transition out of the Medicaid expansion.

People on Medicaid will be eligible for the new tax credits, which will help them purchase the affordable coverage that’s right for them.

The truth is that these reforms are long overdue.

Under Obamacare, the Medicaid expansion costs 50 percent more per enrollee than what we were told.  At this very moment, Medicaid is one of the largest and fastest growing budget items in nearly every state budget.  But you already know that.  And as Medicaid grows, there’s less and less money for schools, for roads, and for public safety.

The truth is for a long time Medicaid has been a broken system that’s been fundamentally unsustainable, and the expansion that occurred Obamacare only made the system worse.

This just can’t continue.  That’s why the Senate healthcare bill puts Medicaid on a budget for the first time in its history — ensuring for the long run that Medicaid will be there for the neediest in our society.

Obamacare has put far too many able-bodied adults on the Medicaid rolls, leaving many disabled and vulnerable Americans at the back of the line.  It’s true, and it’s heartbreaking.  I know Governor Kasich isn’t with us, but I suspect that he’s very troubled to know that in Ohio alone, nearly 60,000 disabled citizens are stuck on waiting lists, leaving them without the care they need for months or even years.

Just a few weeks ago at the White House, I met just such a family from a state that had expanded Medicaid.  Christine and Jacob Chalkey.  They’re a beautiful family, but they have a heartbreaking story, and it’s one that America needs to hear.

Jacob is Christine’s son, a courageous young man in his early 20s.  He has a rare disability, and for nearly his entire life, he depended on Medicaid in his state for the medicine that he needs.

But a few years back, when their state expanded traditional Medicaid, the state also announced that they were going to cut back on coverage for medication like Jacob’s.

One day, Christine told me with tears in her eyes, as well, that she got a letter in the mail saying that the state would no longer pay for Jacob’s medicine.  The family tried as hard as they could to get enough money together, but they just couldn’t do it.  They had to switch to a different, cheaper alternative that might not work.

And sure enough, it didn’t.  Young Jake’s health began to fail, she told me.  He even lost his ability to see, to walk, and to talk.  Only by the grace of God did he regain these skills and a loving family was there at his side.  But every day is now a struggle for him and their family.

Jake is not alone.  The truth is I’ve heard from special-needs families as I’ve traveled all across this country, and they’ve told me again and again that unless we reform Medicaid, our most vulnerable are going to continue to be crowded out of coverage that they rely on and depend on.

I don’t have to ask any one of you to know where your hearts are on this issue.  You know Medicaid was created in the very instances of its founding to support the aged, the blind, the disabled, and vulnerable children.  And unless we bring about needful reforms that you alone in your state know how to best implement, we’re going to continue to see scarce resources crowd out the help that our most vulnerable need.  And I know that no one around this table, no one sitting in a governor’s office in our states or territories wants that to happen.

This demands a compassionate response.  I know all of you care deeply about those families.  You want to provide for them and give them the best shot at a better life.

I say that with confidence because I know all of you.  Beyond the politics that may separate us, I have to tell you that being among governors was one of the most inspiring times in my season of public service.  Because as Gina and I were talking earlier, governors are doers.  You roll your sleeves up.  More often than not, you just check your politics at the door and go figure out how to solve problems.  And this room is filled with men and women who are problem-solvers.

So I want to say this is your chance.  The Senate healthcare bill restores Medicaid to its original purpose — caring for the disabled, the blind, the low-income elderly, pregnant women, and children.  And we can put you back in the driver’s seat to making sure that it does just that.

I really believe, as the President does, that we’re saving Medicaid for the sake of our most vulnerable and all that depend on it.  We’re providing all Americans with access to the high quality and affordable health insurance with the reforms that are moving through Congress today.

This really is about caring for the least among us, and it’s about doing the right thing.  And at the end of the day, I know in my heart of hearts the men and women around this table, and everyone in public service at every level longs to do just that.

Before I leave, I’d like to mention one more accomplishment in the Senate healthcare bill that I know is of great interest and has already been a subject of discussion appropriately at this gathering of the National Governors Association.  I’m pleased to report that the new Senate healthcare bill provides unprecedented new resources to address the opioid crisis that’s ravaging our states and communities across this nation.  (Applause.)

The President and I are grateful for each one of your leadership on this issue.  And in my days back in the Hoosier State, I sat around kitchen tables with families that were dealing with the loss of a loved one to opioid addiction, or dealing with the long, long road back from opioid addiction and abuse.

Now you all would be glad to know that President Trump has made a priority of this administration to end the scourge of opioid addiction in this country.  He knows the impact that it has on families, and we’re determined in this administration to bring the full resources of the national government to bear on assisting you as you come alongside these families.

President Trump has been giving our law enforcement community at every level the resources and backing they need to go after this on the law enforcement side.   We’ve been getting gang members, drug dealers, and violent criminals like MS-13 off the streets of our cities at an unprecedented pace.  The President has also created a commission devoted to addressing the opioid crisis because we know that we have to meet this crisis not just with law enforcement but also with compassion and with new resources for those that are caught up in the scourge of addiction.

With this President’s support, the Senate healthcare bill unveiled yesterday a remarkable $45 billion in new federal resources to confront opioid abuse and addiction in our states.  (Applause.)

And when this bill is signed into law, every state in America will benefit from this funding.  And passing this bill is a vital step to help those who suffer in the grip of addiction, our communities, and our country, and put our entire nation back on the road to healing.

As the Governor and I were just talking a moment ago, once again in your state, after Congress passed the Cures Act last year, you’re going to have the ability with these new resources to look at issues like not only treatment, but also treatment centers to build further capacity in your states to make resources available for people and their families to deal with the scourge of addition.  And we know your leadership will make a difference in lives.

The bottom line:  That the Senate healthcare act provides for the most vulnerable in our society.  It improves and strengthens Medicaid.  It gives you, America’s governors, the flexibility you need to bring better care, better coverage, and better outcomes to the citizens of your states.  The President and I truly believe it will be a historic day for American healthcare when the President has the privilege to sign this bill into law.  And we commend it.  We commend this bill to your attention, and we ask for your support.

But today, I want to ask all of you to continue to work with us to build on the good work being done in this Congress on healthcare and on so many other issues.  I want to challenge each one of you to work together with this administration to give the American people access to the world-class healthcare they deserve and to move forward the kind of policies that will strengthen our nation, strengthen our economy, and advance the security and safety of the American people.

But we truly do believe now is the time to act in the Congress in healthcare reform for the sake of the American people.  Now is the time to usher in a new era of state-based innovation.  Now is the time to make the best healthcare system the world even better.

And as I close, let me again thank you for the warm welcome today and the good fellowship.  When I arrived today one of my colleagues asked me if I missed you.  And the truth is, I do.  The privilege of serving as a governor of the state I grew up in was the greatest privilege of my life till that phone rang a year ago this weekend.

But there’s something special about governors, and I want you to know that President Trump and I know it.  And we’re just determined to seize this moment in the life of our nation to advance the interests and the well-being of people of our country.  And we ask for your support.

And as I ask it, I say with confidence that I know we will succeed as we confront the challenges in healthcare and beyond because I have faith.

So with boundless faith in the American people, with faith in you men and women in this room who lead the great states of this Union, with faith in our President’s vision and determination, and with faith in God who has ever watched over this Land of the Free and Home of the Brave, I say with confidence:  We will make America safe again.  We will make America prosperous again.  We will give Americans the opportunity to have access to world-class healthcare again.  And to borrow a phrase, working with all of you on behalf of all of the American people, we will Make America Great Again.

Thank you very much.  God bless you for your service to this nation.  God bless your states and God bless the United States of America.  (Applause.)

END
2:02 P.M. EDT

Full Text Political Transcripts July 13, 2017: President Donald Trump and President Emmanuel Macron of France Remarks in Joint Press Conference

POLITICAL TRANSCRIPTS

TRUMP PRESIDENCY & 115TH CONGRESS:

Remarks by President Trump and President Macron of France in Joint Press Conference | July 13, 2017

Source: WH, 7-13-17

 

Élysée Palace
Paris, France

6:44 P.M. CET

PRESIDENT MACRON:  (As interpreted.)  Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen.  First and foremost, I want to thank President Trump for his visit to Paris this afternoon and tomorrow, tomorrow morning, as well as to thank his delegation.  I was very pleased to be able to welcome President Trump and his spouse today.  He accepted the invitation I extended a couple of weeks ago in order to invite him to join the ceremonies of the 14th of July, tomorrow.

I think it is both a symbol and very important that the President of the United States could be with us tomorrow on the occasion of our National Day, and attend a military parade, which will — to which the American troops will take part.  We will be also commemorating the 100th anniversary of the American troops joining World War I with the allies in France.

I think it is important because, beyond daily news, we live in countries with roots which are deeper and go further and beyond who we are.  So the presence of President Trump was, in my eyes, not only natural, and I think it is also an excellent thing for the history of both our countries.

Earlier today, we started by sharing part of our joint history at the Invalides Museum, the Army Museum.  Then we had a working session.  And I shall say that I’m extremely pleased about it.  We’ve been able to talk about a number of topics of joint interest, and we underlined a number of shared convictions and, most importantly, a joint roadmap in order to work together in the coming month.

We agreed to implement free and fair trade, and in the field — and this is the G20, in Hamburg, also expressed in terms of sensitivity.  We want to work together in order to implement some efficient measures to tackle dumping anywhere it is taking place in all the fields, by sharing the information that we have and making sure that both the European Union and the United States can take the necessary measures in order to protect within the context of free trade, but of fair, free trade that we can protect all over sectors of activities where we are active.

We then had a long discussion which enabled us to cover all of the topics of international policies and the challenges — the security challenges for the people as well.  When it comes to fighting terrorism, from day one I can say that we’ve seen eye to eye, and we are strongly determined to take any necessary measures in order to root out terrorism and to eradicate it no matter where, in particular the narrative on the Internet.  We agreed to strengthen our action and our cooperation in fighting against propaganda.

We want to get all the major operators to limit the propaganda, and also tackle cyber criminality.  These topics, I believe, are fundamental.  And I do hope that we can strengthen the cooperation between both our countries.  And it is with a lot of satisfaction that I heard from President Trump the very same approach.  And our services will then, therefore, be working together in the coming weeks and months to have a solid action map for that.

Regarding the situation in Iraq and in Syria, here again we agreed to continue to work together, in particular in order to be able to launch together some diplomatic initiatives in order to put in place a roadmap for what will come after the war.

We talked about our role, our post-conflict role, but initially we want to put in place a contact group in order to be more efficient, in order to be able to support what is being done by the United Nations, in order to support a political roadmap, in particular for Syria after the war.  It is important to put in place some inclusive political solutions for that period of time.  We know where destabilization comes from.  The roadmap will take care of that.  We’ll cover it.  And we’ll also ask our diplomats and our staff to work along those lines so that, in the coming weeks, some concrete initiatives can be taken.  And they’re supported by the P5.

We also share the same intentions regarding Libya.  And like I told President Trump, I very much want to take a number of diplomatic initiatives, strong ones, given the situation that we know, and which requires more stability and better control over the region.

On Libya or the Sahel, I think I can say that we have the same vision, a very coherent understanding of the situation in the region, and the same willingness to act very clearly against any form of terrorism and destabilization.

Next, climate.  Well, here we know what our disagreements are.  We have expressed them on a number of occasions.  But I think it is important that we can continue to talk about it.  I very much respect the decision taken by President Trump.  He will work upon implementing his campaign promises.  And as far as I’m concerned, I remain attached to the Paris Accord, and we’ll make sure that, step by step, we can do everything which is in the accord.

Ladies and gentlemen, this is in summary what we’ve been talking about.  We will continue with a friendly tone and informal one this evening.  Regarding trade and security for both our countries, the fight against terrorism, stability in the Near and Middle East, in Libya or in the Sahel, I can say that we have a shared determination.  The United States is extremely involved in the Iraq War, and I would like to thank President Trump for everything that’s been done by the American troops against this background.  But I would like him to know that I am fully determined to act together with him in this respect — fully determined.

I very much want both our countries in these matters to increase their cooperation in the coming month, because the threat we are facing is a global one.  The enemies — our enemies are trying to destabilize us by any way.  And I believe that this is very much at the heart of the historic alliance between our two countries, and which fully justifies the presence of President Trump today and tomorrow in Paris.

Thank you.  Thank you, dear Donald.  Thank you.

PRESIDENT TRUMP:  Well thank you very much, President Macron.  And Melania and I are thrilled to join you and Mrs. Macron.  This is a wonderful national celebration, and we look very much forward to it.  It will be spectacular.  Tomorrow — Bastille Day.

We’re honored to be here in your beautiful country — and it certainly is a beautiful country — with its proud history and its magnificent people.  And thank you for the tour of some of the most incredible buildings anywhere in the world.  That was very, very — a very beautiful thing to see.  Thank you.

When the French people rose up and stormed the Bastille, it changed the course of human history.  Our two nations are forever joined together by the spirit of revolution and the fight for freedom.  France is America’s first and oldest ally.  A lot of people don’t know that.  Ever since General Lafayette joined the American fight for independence, our fates and fortunes have been tied unequivocally together.  It was a longtime ago but we are together, and I think together, perhaps, more so than ever.  The relationship is very good.

This visit also commemorates another milestone.  One century ago, the United States entered World War I.  And when the President called me, he had mentioned that fact — 100 years ago, that was — I said, Mr. President, I will be there.  That’s a big, important date — 100 years.

We remember the tens of thousands of Americans who gave their lives in that valiant and very difficult struggle.  We also pay tribute to the heroic deeds of the French Troops whose courage at the Battle of Marne, and countless other battles, will never be forgotten by us.  More than one million French soldiers laid down their lives in defense of liberty.  Their sacrifice is an eternal tribute to France and to freedom.  French and American patriots have fought together, bled together, and died together in the fight for our countries and our civilizations.

Today, we face new threats from rogue regimes like North Korea, Iran, and Syria, and the governments that finance and support them.  We also face grave threats from terrorist organizations that wage war on innocent lives.  Tomorrow will mark one year since a joyous Bastille Day celebration in Nice turned into a massacre.  We all remember that, how horrible that was.  We mourn the 86 lives that were stolen, and we pray for their loved ones.  We also renew our resolve to stand united against these enemies of humanity and to strip them of their territory, their funding, their networks, and ideological support.

Today, President Macron and myself discussed how we can strengthen our vital security partnerships.  We just had a meeting with our generals and our representatives, and it went very well.  France has excellent counterterrorism capabilities. The French troops are serving bravely in places like Mali to defeat these forces of murder and destruction.  The United States and our allies strengthen our commitments to defeat terrorism.

We’re also making tremendous progress.  Earlier this week, with the strong support of the United States and the Global Coalition, Iraqi forces liberated the city of Mosul from ISIS control.  Now we must work with the government of Iraq and our partners and allies in the region to consolidate the gains and ensure that the victory stays a victory, unlike the last time.

Last week, the G20 leaders also reaffirmed the right to sovereign nations to control their borders.  We must be strong from within to defend ourselves from threats from the outside.  The nations of the West also face domestic challenges of our own creation, including vast government bureaucracy that saps the strength from our economies and from our societies.

For this reason, I applaud President Macron on his courageous call for that “less bureaucracy” — it’s a good chant — “less bureaucracy,” — we can use it, too — and a Europe that protects its citizens.  We did not become great through regulation.  And in the United States, Mr. President, we also have cut regulations at a level we’ve never seen before.  So we’re very proud of that — over the last six months — but by allowing our people to follow their dreams.  That’s what it’s all about.  To achieve these dreams, however, we must also confront unfair trade practices that hurt our workers, and pursue trade deals that are reciprocal and fair.

Both President Macron and I understand our responsibility to prioritize the interests of our countries and, at the same time, to be respectful of the world in which we live.  We live in a very complex world.  We have to respect it.  The United States remains committed to being a leader in environmental protection, while we advance energy security and economic growth.

The friendship between our two nations — and ourselves, I might add — is unbreakable.  Our occasional disagreements are nothing compared to the immortal bonds of culture, destiny, and liberty that unite us.  So strongly unite us, also.  As long as we have pride in who we are, where we’ve come from, how we got here, and what we’ve achieved as free and democratic nations, then there is nothing we cannot accomplish together.

France helped us secure our independence.  A lot of people forget.  In the American Revolution, thousands of French soldiers fought alongside American troops so that, as Lafayette said, liberty would have a country.  Ever since then, courageous heroes from both nations have fought for the same noble values and the same righteous cause.

Tomorrow, the French Tricolor will once again wave proudly alongside the American Stars and Stripes.  Our brave soldiers will march side-by-side, and we will all be inspired to protect and cherish the birthright of freedom that our ancestors won for us with their sweat and with their blood.

President Macron, thank you for inviting Melania and myself to this historic celebration.  And to you and your spectacular country:  May God bless France and may God bless America.

Thank you very much.  Thank you.  Thank you, Mr. President.

PRESIDENT MACRON:  (As interpreted.)  Very well.  I think we will be taking four questions.

Neither President Trump nor myself have a microphone.  (Laughter.)

PRESIDENT TRUMP:  He’s getting first question, President?

Q    (As interpreted.)  A question for President Macron regarding what you said on the occasion of the press conference together with Chancellor Merkel.  Do you still hope that President Trump — or did you still hope that President Trump could turn his mind regarding the Paris Accord?

And now, President Trump, is it possible for you to come back to the Paris Accord and change your mind?

Next, regarding your relation, how would you describe it today?  What about the dinner tonight?  Is it going to be a dinner between friends?

PRESIDENT MACRON:  (As interpreted.)  Well, regarding climate — well, we have a number of disagreements, which are in particular due to the commitments taken by President Trump vis-à-vis his — during the presidential campaign.  So did I.  I’m aware of the high importance that that is, but we therefore talked about our disagreement.  And we actually discussed the matter even before President Trump reached the decision.

Next, should that have an impact on the discussions we are having on all other topics?  No, absolutely not.  This is the reason why we share the same views and some major common goals on many other topics or all other topics, which we’ve been discussing today, and we shall move forward together.

Next — well, of course, President Trump will tell you about it, but he’s made a number of commitments, and we’re going to be working together, and my willingness to continue to work with the United States and the President on these very major topics.  I understand that it’s important to save jobs.  That being said, we shall leave the United States of America work on what is its roadmap, and continue to talk about it.

So today there is nothing new, unprecedented, otherwise we would have told you about it.  But I believe there is a joint willingness to continue to talk about this and try and find the best possible agreement.  As far as I’m concerned, I remain extremely attached to the framework of the Paris Accord, which has been a major international breakthrough, and it is within that framework that I’m working on priorities, including for the European Union.

Lastly, as you know, I never very much want to comment who we are and what we are doing, personally.  But I can tell you that this evening, at the Eiffel Tower, it will be a dinner between friends, because we are the representatives of two countries which have been allies forever and because we’ve been able to build a strong relation which is dear to me, because it matters a great deal for both countries.  It will, therefore, give me great pleasure to have dinner together with you tonight.

PRESIDENT TRUMP:  I think that I can reiterate.  We have a very good relationship, a good friendship.  And we look forward to dinner tonight at the Eiffel Tower.  That will be something special.  And, yeah, I mean, something could happen with respect to the Paris Accord.  We’ll see what happens.  But we will talk about that over the coming period of time.  And if it happens, that will be wonderful.  And if it doesn’t, that will be okay, too.  But we’ll see what happens.

But we did discuss many things today, including the ceasefire in Syria.  We discussed the Ukraine.  We discussed a lot of different topics.  We briefly hit on the Paris Accord.  And we’ll see what happens.

Yes, ma’am.  Go ahead.

Q    Thank you.  Merci, Mr. President.  Mr. President, your FBI nominee said if someone in a campaign got an email about Russia, like the one that your son Don Jr. received, that they should alert the FBI rather than accept that meeting.  Is he wrong?  Also, were you misled by your team in not knowing about this meeting?

And, Mr. President, thank you very much.  You have heard President Trump say that it may have been Russia, it may have been others who interfered with the U.S. election.  Is President Trump taking a hard-enough line on Russia, as you see it?  Merci.

PRESIDENT TRUMP:  Well, I’ll start off by saying, first of all, I believe that we will have a great FBI director.  I think he’s doing really well, and we’re very proud of that choice.  I think I’ve done a great service to the country by choosing him.  He will make us all proud, and I think someday we’ll see that — and hopefully someday soon.  So, we’re very proud of him.

As far as my son is concerned, my son is a wonderful young man.  He took a meeting with a Russian lawyer, not a government lawyer, but a Russian lawyer.  It was a short meeting.  It was a meeting that went very, very quickly, very fast.  Two of the people in the room, they — I guess one of them left almost immediately and the other one was not really focused on the meeting.

I do think this:  I think from a practical standpoint, most people would have taken that meeting.  It’s called opposition research, or even research into your opponent.  I’ve had many people — I have only been in politics for two years, but I’ve had many people call up — “Oh, gee, we have information on this factor or this person, or, frankly, Hillary.”  That’s very standard in politics.  Politics is not the nicest business in the world, but it’s very standard where they have information and you take the information.

In the case of Don, he listened.  I guess they talked about — as I see it, they talked about adoption and some things.  Adoption wasn’t even a part of the campaign.  But nothing happened from the meeting.  Zero happened from the meeting.  And, honestly, I think the press made a very big deal over something that, really, a lot of people would do.

Now, the lawyer that went to the meeting, I see that she was in the halls of Congress, also.  Somebody said that her visa or her passport to come into the country was approved by Attorney General Lynch.  Now, maybe that’s wrong.  I just heard that a little while ago.  But a little surprised to hear that.  So she was here because of Lynch.

So, again, I have a son who’s a great young man.  He’s a fine person.  He took a meeting with a lawyer from Russia.  It lasted for a very short period, and nothing came of the meeting.  And I think it’s a meeting that most people in politics probably would have taken.

Mr. President.

PRESIDENT MACRON:  (In English.)  Yes, to answer your question, I will not interfere in U.S. domestic policy.  And I think it’s always good between partners and allies not to interfere in others’ domestic life.

PRESIDENT TRUMP:  What a good answer that was.  (Laughter.)

PRESIDENT MACRON:  (In English.)  And I do believe that both of us have a direct relationship with Russia.  President Trump had more than two hours meeting with President Putin during this past G20.  So that’s — I had two very long meetings with President Putin, the very first one in Versailles and the second one during the G20.  And this relationship is very important.  We have a lot of disagreements.  We have a lot of discrepancies, obviously, with Russia.  But in the current environment, especially in the Middle East, it’s a necessity to work together, to work together, to exchange information, to share disagreements, and to try to build solutions.

So that’s my relationship with Russia.  And we don’t have, obviously, the same relationship as the one with the U.S.  But that’s a longstanding relationship with Russia as well, and I think it’s important that both of us have direct discussion and contact with President Putin.

PRESIDENT TRUMP:  One of the great things that came out of that meeting, by the way — even though it’s not part of the question — was the fact that we got a ceasefire that now has lasted for, I guess, Mr. President, almost five days.  And while five days doesn’t sound like a long period of time, in terms of a ceasefire in Syria, that’s a very long period of time.  And that was a result of having communication with a country.  So, during that five-day period, a lot of lives have been saved.  A lot of people were not killed.  No shots have been fired in a very, very dangerous part of the world, and this is one of the most dangerous parts of Syria itself.

So by having some communication and dialogue, we were able to have this ceasefire, and it’s going to go on for a while.  And, frankly, we’re working on a second ceasefire in a very rough part of Syria.  And if we get that and a few more, all of a sudden you’re going to have no bullets being fired in Syria.  And that would be a wonderful thing.

Mr. President, you have a question.

PRESIDENT MACRON:  (As interpreted.)  Third question from BFN TV.

Q    (As interpreted.)  A question to President Macron.  You went to Lausanne in order to support Paris’s bid for the Olympic Games, and on this occasion you somehow criticized President Trump’s policy without naming him.  You said that France made a very clear choice to leave its border open and not to build walls to protect its people.  Do you condemn the Muslim ban and the building of the wall between the United States and Mexico?

Regarding Syria, as it was just mentioned by President Trump, is France ready to talk directly with Bashar al-Assad in the negotiation that you mentioned?

(In English.)  You’ve mentioned a friend, Jim, who told you that Paris is no longer Paris.  You were implying at the time that Paris was not safe anymore.  You’ve also said that France and Germany are infected by terrorism and “it’s their fault because they let people enter their territory.”  Those are very strong words.  Would you repeat them today?  And do you still believe that France is not able to fight terrorism on its own territory?  Thank you.

PRESIDENT TRUMP:   You better let me answer that one first.  That’s a beauty.  (Laughter.)  He’s the one that asked the question.  That wasn’t even one of my picks.

You know what, it’s going to be just fine because you have a great President.  You have somebody that’s going to run this country right.  And I would be willing to bet — because I think this is one of the great cities, one of the most beautiful cities in the world — and you have a great leader now, you have a great President, you have a tough President.  He’s not going to be easy on people that are breaking the laws and people that show this tremendous violence.

So I really have a feeling that you’re going to have a very, very peaceful and beautiful Paris, and I’m coming back.  You better do a good job, please.  (Laughter.)  Otherwise you’re going to make me look very bad.

PRESIDENT MACRON:  (In English.)  And you’re always welcome.

PRESIDENT TRUMP:  Thank you.

PRESIDENT MACRON:  (As interpreted.)  Regarding the first question, like I said, I believe that the discussions that we’ve had today is the proper answer to terrorism.  The right answer is strengthen cooperation between our services and a never-ending fight against terrorists no matter where they are.  This is what I was referring to, this is what we’re working on actively together.

So, in this respect, there is no difference and no gap between the French and the American positions.  When I have something to say, I say it clearly, and I do say who I’m aiming at.  And when I refer to those who have been my opponents in the French political battle, I also mention the names.  So let us not mix up everything.

And regarding the fight against terrorism, I think the right approach is to have strengthened cooperation in the field of intelligence, is also to be working together on all the theaters of operation where we are.  And I think that the decisions we’ve reached today will enable us to do more.

Next, your question regarding Bashar al-Assad, which is an important one.  Let me put it simply:  Indeed, we now have a new approach of Syria because we want some results and we want to be closely working together with our partners, including the United States of America.  We have one main goal, which is to eradicate terrorism.  No matter who they are, we want to build an inclusive and sustainable political solution.  Against that background, I do not require Assad’s departure.  This is no longer a prerequisite for France to work on that, because I can only tell you that, for seven years, we did not have an embassy in Damascus, and still we have no solution.

Next, we also have a common red line, together with President Trump.  He intervened before I was elected, and I said it to President Putin after my election:  No use whatsoever of chemical weapons.  Any use will lead to reaction — an attack against a reaction regarding the storage places.

Next, we also want humanitarian corridors.  Also, we want to build a sustainable political stability for Syria.  This is our roadmap.  In order to stick to it, we need diplomatic initiative beyond our military actions.  This is what we’ve been agreeing upon, because we want to take an initiative with the members of the Security Council and a number of countries involved in the process.  Of course, there will be representatives of Assad that will enable us to put in place the roadmap for after the war, but there will also be representatives of the opposition and people with different backgrounds, and we will talk to all of them against that background.

One last question for an American journalist.

Q    Thank you.  (Inaudible) TV of China.  (As interpreted.)  For both Presidents:  Mr. Macron, you had your first meeting with the Chinese President during the G20 Summit.  What will France do?  How will France cooperate with all of these areas with China?  And what do you think personally of Mr. Xi Jinping?

(In English.)  Mr. President, you have just met the Chinese President during the G20 Summit.  How do you want to continue to work with China?  And what do you personally think about Mr. Xi Jinping?  Thank you very much.

PRESIDENT TRUMP:  Well, he’s a friend of mine.  I have great respect for him.  We’ve gotten to know each other very well.  A great leader.  He’s a very talented man.  I think he’s a very good man.  He loves China, I can tell you.  He loves China.  He wants to do what’s right for China.

We’ve asked him for some assistance with respect to North Korea.  Probably, he could do a little bit more, but we’ll find out.  We’re now working on some trade deals.  He’s been very nice.  He’s let, as you know, beef go back in, certain financing go back in, credit card financing, and various other things go back in at my request, which is a great thing for our farmers.  A lot of good things are happening, but we’re going to be working on some very major trade components.

But President Xi is a terrific guy.  I like being with him a lot, and he’s a very special person.

Okay, thank you.

PRESIDENT MACRON:  (As interpreted.)  I first talked to President Xi over the telephone, and then I got to meet him in the margin of the G20 Summit in Hamburg.  Early next year I will be traveling to China.  We’ve agreed to it.  So I cannot say that he’s a friend of mine or that I know him very well because I very much want to say things as they are.  But we had some initial contacts which were extremely fruitful and positive.

I have a lot of respect for President Xi, and I would like to say that over the past few months he did express his willingness to have a vision for multilateralism and wanted to commit himself on a number of topics.  I think that many of us remember his words in Davos, and he there very strongly expressed his vision of the role of China.  We have a number of joint commitments, including on climate.  He’s very committed to that, and he told me that he wanted to do more in the field, and I can only be happy about it.  He wants strong cooperation.

And like President Trump said, the trade issues and regarding the number of activities — there are issues, there are differences, but a joint willingness to sort them out.  And as permanent members of the Security Council, we want to work together on all of the topics we’ve been discussing today.

And China, in this respect, is a key partner in order to build peace all around the world, and I share what President Trump just said, that China is to play a very specific role regarding the rising tension, the growing tension with North Korea.  It’s important that China can play fully its role in the region.

In summary, I think he is today one of the great leaders of our world, implementing a major and ambitious reform of China society and the economy in China.  And therefore my willingness, in this respect as well, is to have strategic dialogue, the purpose of which is to continue to talk about the industry of — civil nuclear industry, economic matters, and talk about any difficulties we may have together.

Very well.  Allow me to thank you, ladies and gentlemen, and once again thank President Trump for his visit.  And I will be seeing him in a few moments in a friendly atmosphere.

PRESIDENT TRUMP:  Thank you very much.  Great honor.  Thank you.

END
7:20 P.M. CET

Full Text Political Transcripts July 8, 2017: President Donald Trump’s Remarks at Women’s Entrepreneurship Finance Event

POLITICAL TRANSCRIPTS

TRUMP PRESIDENCY & 115TH CONGRESS:

Remarks by President Trump at Women’s Entrepreneurship Finance Event

Source: WH, 7-8-17

Hamburg Messe
Hamburg, Germany

10:02 A.M. CET

PRESIDENT TRUMP: Justin, thank you very much. We have a great neighbor in Canada, and Justin is doing a spectacular job in Canada. Everybody loves him, and they love him for all reasons. So, congratulations on the job you’re doing.

And I want to thank also Chancellor Merkel for what she’s done here. It’s been really incredible the way things have been handled — and nothing is easy — but so professionally and without much interruption, despite quite a few people. And they seem to follow your G20s around. But you have been amazing and you have done a fantastic job. And thank you very much, Chancellor. Incredible. (Applause.)

I truly am glad and very proud to be here today to announce the historic initiative that will help transform millions of lives — millions and millions. A lot of great, great women out there with tremendous entrepreneurial spirit and talent. And it will provide new hope to these women from countless communities all across the world. Women in both developing and developed countries represent tremendous promise for economic growth and prosperity.

When more women participate in the workforce — which, by the way, will be a lot more competition for people like me, prior to becoming a politician. That’s a lot of competition, talented competition. But the world economy will grow and millions and millions of people will be lifted out of poverty. Millions and millions of people, jobs.

The critical investments we’re announcing today will help advance the economic empowerment of women around the world. As I said in Poland on Thursday — and Poland was so terrific to me, and such great people — empowering women is a core value that binds us together.

I’m very proud of my daughter, Ivanka — always have been, from day one — I had to tell you that, from day one. She’s always been great. (Applause.) A champion. She’s a champion. If she weren’t my daughter, it would be so much easier for her. (Laughter.) Might be the only bad thing she has going, if you want to know the truth. But I’m very proud of Ivanka who has been a forceful advocate for landmark women entrepreneurs. And she worked very hard for the women entrepreneurs finance initiative.

So I want to thank you, Ivanka, for all of the great work you do in so many ways, in addition to great work you’ve done over the last few weeks and months working so hard to help everybody. You’re helping the Chancellor, but you’re helping women all over the world. And I want to thank you. Thank you very much.

I also want to thank World Bank President, my friend — ah, Kim. (Laughter.) Great guy. Really great guy. I might have even appointed him, but I didn’t. He’d be a great appointment. And the founding donor countries for their generous support. We’ve had tremendous support from so many countries.

Chancellor Merkel and Ivanka, this is a vision that really has now become a reality, a very strong and funded reality. Thank you for all your efforts and your dedication to this very critical issue. And I love it because so many jobs, even beyond women — the women will be creating tremendous initiatives and businesses, and that means jobs for people.

We applaud everyone involved in this wonderful and meaningful project. And President Kim told me just recently that this is one of the most significant fundraising efforts for women entrepreneurs that has ever happened in history. And I think there’s really nothing even close. So that’s a really great achievement.

And I’m pleased to announce today that our administration will also make a substantial contribution. And around the world, women face numerous barriers running their own businesses, including access to capital and, maybe almost as importantly, access to mentors. The facility will help remove these barriers and open up doors of opportunity so women may live and work to their full potential. And I know what that potential is — it’s unlimited.

By investing in women around the world, we’ve investing in families, we’re investing in prosperity, and we’re investing in peace.

With a $50 million commitment, the United States will continue to lead the world stage in developing policies to empower women financially in our modern economy.

So I just want to congratulate everybody. This has been a really difficult one. But once it got going, it was about women, and it just took off beyond what anybody thought.

Thank you. Thank you. Thank everybody here. And, Chancellor, thank you very much. Your leadership is absolutely incredible and very inspiring. Thank you very much, everybody. (Applause.)

END 10:07 A.M. CET

Full Text Political Transcripts July 6, 2017: President Donald Trump’s Speech to the People of Poland

POLITICAL TRANSCRIPTS

TRUMP PRESIDENCY & 115TH CONGRESS:

Remarks by President Trump to the People of Poland | July 6, 2017

Source: WH, 7-6-17

Krasiński Square
Warsaw, Poland

1:16 P.M. CEST

MRS. TRUMP:  Hello, Poland!  Thank you very much.  My husband and I have enjoyed visiting your beautiful country.  I want to thank President and Mrs. Duda for the warm welcome and their generous hospitality.  I had the opportunity to visit the Copernicus Science Centre today, and found it not only informative but thoughtful, its mission, which is to inspire people to observe, experiment, ask questions, and seek answers.

I can think of no better purpose for such a wonderful science center.  Thank you to all who were involved in giving us the tour, especially the children who made it such a wonderful experience.

As many of you know, a main focus of my husband’s presidency is safety and security of the American people.  I think all of us can agree people should be able to live their lives without fear, no matter what country they live in.  That is my wish for all of us around the world.  (Applause.)

Thank you again for this wonderful welcome to your very special country.  Your kindness and gracious hospitality will not be forgotten.  (Applause.)

And now it is my honor to introduce to you my husband, the President of the United States, Donald J. Trump.  (Applause.)

PRESIDENT TRUMP:  Thank you very much.  That’s so nice.  The United States has many great diplomats, but there is truly no better ambassador for our country than our beautiful First Lady, Melania.  Thank you, Melania.  That was very nice.  (Applause.)

We’ve come to your nation to deliver a very important message:  America loves Poland, and America loves the Polish people.  (Applause.)  Thank you.

The Poles have not only greatly enriched this region, but Polish-Americans have also greatly enriched the United States, and I was truly proud to have their support in the 2016 election.  (Applause.)

It is a profound honor to stand in this city, by this monument to the Warsaw Uprising, and to address the Polish nation that so many generations have dreamed of:  a Poland that is safe, strong, and free.  (Applause.)

President Duda and your wonderful First Lady, Agata, have welcomed us with the tremendous warmth and kindness for which Poland is known around the world.  Thank you.  (Applause.)  My sincere — and I mean sincerely thank both of them.  And to Prime Minister Syzdlo, a very special thanks also.  (Applause.)

We are also pleased that former President Lech Walesa, so famous for leading the Solidarity Movement, has joined us today, also.  (Applause.)  Thank you.  Thank you.  Thank you.

On behalf of all Americans, let me also thank the entire Polish people for the generosity you have shown in welcoming our soldiers to your country.  These soldiers are not only brave defenders of freedom, but also symbols of America’s commitment to your security and your place in a strong and democratic Europe.
We are proudly joined on stage by American, Polish, British, and Romanian soldiers.  Thank you.  (Applause.)  Thank you.  Great job.

President Duda and I have just come from an incredibly successful meeting with the leaders participating in the Three Seas Initiative.  To the citizens of this great region, America is eager to expand our partnership with you.  We welcome stronger ties of trade and commerce as you grow your economies. And we are committed to securing your access to alternate sources of energy, so Poland and its neighbors are never again held hostage to a single supplier of energy.  (Applause.)

Mr. President, I congratulate you, along with the President of Croatia, on your leadership of this historic Three Seas Initiative.  Thank you.  (Applause.)

This is my first visit to Central Europe as President, and I am thrilled that it could be right here at this magnificent, beautiful piece of land.  It is beautiful.  (Applause.)  Poland is the geographic heart of Europe, but more importantly, in the Polish people, we see the soul of Europe.  Your nation is great because your spirit is great and your spirit is strong.  (Applause.)

For two centuries, Poland suffered constant and brutal attacks.  But while Poland could be invaded and occupied, and its borders even erased from the map, it could never be erased from history or from your hearts.  In those dark days, you have lost your land but you never lost your pride.  (Applause.)

So it is with true admiration that I can say today, that from the farms and villages of your countryside to the cathedrals and squares of your great cities, Poland lives, Poland prospers, and Poland prevails.  (Applause.)

Despite every effort to transform you, oppress you, or destroy you, you endured and overcame.  You are the proud nation of Copernicus — think of that — (applause) — Chopin, Saint John Paul II.  Poland is a land of great heroes.  (Applause.)  And you are a people who know the true value of what you defend.

The triumph of the Polish spirit over centuries of hardship gives us all hope for a future in which good conquers evil, and peace achieves victory over war.

For Americans, Poland has been a symbol of hope since the beginning of our nation.  Polish heroes and American patriots fought side by side in our War of Independence and in many wars that followed.  Our soldiers still serve together today in Afghanistan and Iraq, combatting the enemies of all civilization.

For America’s part, we have never given up on freedom and independence as the right and destiny of the Polish people, and we never, ever will.  (Applause.)

Our two countries share a special bond forged by unique histories and national characters.  It’s a fellowship that exists only among people who have fought and bled and died for freedom.  (Applause.)

The signs of this friendship stand in our nation’s capital.  Just steps from the White House, we’ve raised statues of men with names like Pułaski and Kościuszko.  (Applause.)  The same is true in Warsaw, where street signs carry the name of George Washington, and a monument stands to one of the world’s greatest heroes, Ronald Reagan.  (Applause.)

And so I am here today not just to visit an old ally, but to hold it up as an example for others who seek freedom and who wish to summon the courage and the will to defend our civilization.  (Applause.)  The story of Poland is the story of a people who have never lost hope, who have never been broken, and who have never, ever forgotten who they are.  (Applause)

AUDIENCE:  Donald Trump!  Donald Trump!  Donald Trump!

PRESIDENT TRUMP:  Thank you.  Thank you so much.  Thank you.  Thank you so much.  Such a great honor.  This is a nation more than one thousand years old.  Your borders were erased for more than a century and only restored just one century ago.

In 1920, in the Miracle of Vistula, Poland stopped the Soviet army bent on European conquest.  (Applause.)  Then, 19 years later in 1939, you were invaded yet again, this time by Nazi Germany from the west and the Soviet Union from the east.  That’s trouble.  That’s tough.

Under a double occupation the Polish people endured evils beyond description: the Katyn forest massacre, the occupations, the Holocaust, the Warsaw Ghetto and the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising, the destruction of this beautiful capital city, and the deaths of nearly one in five Polish people.  A vibrant Jewish population — the largest in Europe — was reduced to almost nothing after the Nazis systematically murdered millions of Poland’s Jewish citizens, along with countless others, during that brutal occupation.

In the summer of 1944, the Nazi and Soviet armies were preparing for a terrible and bloody battle right here in Warsaw. Amid that hell on earth, the citizens of Poland rose up to defend their homeland.  I am deeply honored to be joined on stage today by veterans and heroes of the Warsaw Uprising.  (Applause.)

AUDIENCE:  (Chanting.)

PRESIDENT TRUMP:  What great spirit.  We salute your noble sacrifice and we pledge to always remember your fight for Poland and for freedom.  Thank you.  Thank you.  (Applause.)

This monument reminds us that more than 150,000 Poles died during that desperate struggle to overthrow oppression.
From the other side of the river, the Soviet armed forces stopped and waited.  They watched as the Nazis ruthlessly destroyed the city, viciously murdering men, women, and children.  They tried to destroy this nation forever by shattering its will to survive.

But there is a courage and a strength deep in the Polish character that no one could destroy.  The Polish martyr, Bishop Michael Kozal, said it well:  “More horrifying than a defeat of arms is a collapse of the human spirit.”

Through four decades of communist rule, Poland and the other captive nations of Europe endured a brutal campaign to demolish freedom, your faith, your laws, your history, your identity — indeed the very essence of your culture and your humanity.  Yet, through it all, you never lost that spirit.  (Applause.)  Your oppressors tried to break you, but Poland could not be broken.  (Applause.)

And when the day came on June 2nd, 1979, and one million Poles gathered around Victory Square for their very first mass with their Polish Pope, that day, every communist in Warsaw must have known that their oppressive system would soon come crashing down.  (Applause.)  They must have known it at the exact moment during Pope John Paul II’s sermon when a million Polish men, women, and children suddenly raised their voices in a single prayer.  A million Polish people did not ask for wealth.  They did not ask for privilege.  Instead, one million Poles sang three simple words:  “We Want God.”  (Applause.)

In those words, the Polish people recalled the promise of a better future.  They found new courage to face down their oppressors, and they found the words to declare that Poland would be Poland once again.

As I stand here today before this incredible crowd, this faithful nation, we can still hear those voices that echo through history.  Their message is as true today as ever.  The people of Poland, the people of America, and the people of Europe still cry out “We want God.”  (Applause.)

Together, with Pope John Paul II, the Poles reasserted their identity as a nation devoted to God.  And with that powerful declaration of who you are, you came to understand what to do and how to live.  You stood in solidarity against oppression, against a lawless secret police, against a cruel and wicked system that impoverished your cities and your souls.  And you won.  Poland prevailed.  Poland will always prevail.  (Applause.)

AUDIENCE:  Donald Trump!  Donald Trump!  Donald Trump!

PRESIDENT TRUMP:  Thank you.  You were supported in that victory over communism by a strong alliance of free nations in the West that defied tyranny.  Now, among the most committed members of the NATO Alliance, Poland has resumed its place as a leading nation of a Europe that is strong, whole, and free.

A strong Poland is a blessing to the nations of Europe, and they know that.  A strong Europe is a blessing to the West and to the world.  (Applause.)  One hundred years after the entry of American forces into World War I, the transatlantic bond between the United States and Europe is as strong as ever and maybe, in many ways, even stronger.

This continent no longer confronts the specter of communism.  But today we’re in the West, and we have to say there are dire threats to our security and to our way of life.  You see what’s happening out there.  They are threats.  We will confront them.  We will win.  But they are threats.  (Applause.)

AUDIENCE:  Donald Trump!  Donald Trump!  Donald Trump!

PRESIDENT TRUMP:  We are confronted by another oppressive ideology — one that seeks to export terrorism and extremism all around the globe.  America and Europe have suffered one terror attack after another.  We’re going to get it to stop.  (Applause.)

During a historic gathering in Saudi Arabia, I called on the leaders of more than 50 Muslim nations to join together to drive out this menace which threatens all of humanity.  We must stand united against these shared enemies to strip them of their territory and their funding, and their networks, and any form of ideological support that they may have.  While we will always welcome new citizens who share our values and love our people, our borders will always be closed to terrorism and extremism of any kind.  (Applause.)

AUDIENCE:  Donald Trump!  Donald Trump!  Donald Trump!

PRESIDENT TRUMP:  We are fighting hard against radical Islamic terrorism, and we will prevail.  We cannot accept those who reject our values and who use hatred to justify violence against the innocent.

Today, the West is also confronted by the powers that seek to test our will, undermine our confidence, and challenge our interests.  To meet new forms of aggression, including propaganda, financial crimes, and cyberwarfare, we must adapt our alliance to compete effectively in new ways and on all new battlefields.

We urge Russia to cease its destabilizing activities in Ukraine and elsewhere, and its support for hostile regimes — including Syria and Iran — and to instead join the community of responsible nations in our fight against common enemies and in defense of civilization itself.  (Applause.)

Finally, on both sides of the Atlantic, our citizens are confronted by yet another danger — one firmly within our control.  This danger is invisible to some but familiar to the Poles:  the steady creep of government bureaucracy that drains the vitality and wealth of the people.  The West became great not because of paperwork and regulations but because people were allowed to chase their dreams and pursue their destinies.

Americans, Poles, and the nations of Europe value individual freedom and sovereignty.  We must work together to confront forces, whether they come from inside or out, from the South or the East, that threaten over time to undermine these values and to erase the bonds of culture, faith and tradition that make us who we are.  (Applause.)  If left unchecked, these forces will undermine our courage, sap our spirit, and weaken our will to defend ourselves and our societies.

But just as our adversaries and enemies of the past learned here in Poland, we know that these forces, too, are doomed to fail if we want them to fail.  And we do, indeed, want them to fail.  (Applause.)  They are doomed not only because our alliance is strong, our countries are resilient, and our power is unmatched.  Through all of that, you have to say everything is true.  Our adversaries, however, are doomed because we will never forget who we are.  And if we don’t forget who are, we just can’t be beaten.  Americans will never forget.  The nations of Europe will never forget.  We are the fastest and the greatest community.  There is nothing like our community of nations.  The world has never known anything like our community of nations.

We write symphonies.  We pursue innovation.  We celebrate our ancient heroes, embrace our timeless traditions and customs, and always seek to explore and discover brand-new frontiers.

We reward brilliance.  We strive for excellence, and cherish inspiring works of art that honor God.  We treasure the rule of law and protect the right to free speech and free expression.  (Applause.)

We empower women as pillars of our society and of our success.  We put faith and family, not government and bureaucracy, at the center of our lives.  And we debate everything.  We challenge everything.  We seek to know everything so that we can better know ourselves.  (Applause.)

And above all, we value the dignity of every human life, protect the rights of every person, and share the hope of every soul to live in freedom.  That is who we are.  Those are the priceless ties that bind us together as nations, as allies, and as a civilization.

What we have, what we inherited from our — and you know this better than anybody, and you see it today with this incredible group of people — what we’ve inherited from our ancestors has never existed to this extent before.  And if we fail to preserve it, it will never, ever exist again.  So we cannot fail.

This great community of nations has something else in common:  In every one of them, it is the people, not the powerful, who have always formed the foundation of freedom and the cornerstone of our defense.  The people have been that foundation here in Poland — as they were right here in Warsaw — and they were the foundation from the very, very beginning in America.

Our citizens did not win freedom together, did not survive horrors together, did not face down evil together, only to lose our freedom to a lack of pride and confidence in our values.  We did not and we will not.  We will never back down.  (Applause.)

AUDIENCE:  Donald Trump!  Donald Trump!  Donald Trump!

PRESIDENT TRUMP:  As long as we know our history, we will know how to build our future.  Americans know that a strong alliance of free, sovereign and independent nations is the best defense for our freedoms and for our interests.  That is why my administration has demanded that all members of NATO finally meet their full and fair financial obligation.

As a result of this insistence, billions of dollars more have begun to pour into NATO.  In fact, people are shocked.  But billions and billions of dollars more are coming in from countries that, in my opinion, would not have been paying so quickly.

To those who would criticize our tough stance, I would point out that the United States has demonstrated not merely with words but with its actions that we stand firmly behind Article 5, the mutual defense commitment.  (Applause.)

Words are easy, but actions are what matters.  And for its own protection — and you know this, everybody knows this, everybody has to know this — Europe must do more.  Europe must demonstrate that it believes in its future by investing its money to secure that future.

That is why we applaud Poland for its decision to move forward this week on acquiring from the United States the battle-tested Patriot air and missile defense system — the best anywhere in the world.  (Applause.)  That is also why we salute the Polish people for being one of the NATO countries that has actually achieved the benchmark for investment in our common defense.  Thank you.  Thank you, Poland.  I must tell you, the example you set is truly magnificent, and we applaud Poland.  Thank you.  (Applause.)

We have to remember that our defense is not just a commitment of money, it is a commitment of will.  Because as the Polish experience reminds us, the defense of the West ultimately rests not only on means but also on the will of its people to prevail and be successful and get what you have to have.  The fundamental question of our time is whether the West has the will to survive.  Do we have the confidence in our values to defend them at any cost?  Do we have enough respect for our citizens to protect our borders?  Do we have the desire and the courage to preserve our civilization in the face of those who would subvert and destroy it?  (Applause.)

We can have the largest economies and the most lethal weapons anywhere on Earth, but if we do not have strong families and strong values, then we will be weak and we will not survive.  (Applause.)  If anyone forgets the critical importance of these things, let them come to one country that never has.  Let them come to Poland.  (Applause.)  And let them come here, to Warsaw, and learn the story of the Warsaw Uprising.

When they do, they should learn about Jerusalem Avenue.  In August of 1944, Jerusalem Avenue was one of the main roads running east and west through this city, just as it is today.
Control of that road was crucially important to both sides in the battle for Warsaw.  The German military wanted it as their most direct route to move troops and to form a very strong front.  And for the Polish Home Army, the ability to pass north and south across that street was critical to keep the center of the city, and the Uprising itself, from being split apart and destroyed.

Every night, the Poles put up sandbags amid machine gun fire — and it was horrendous fire — to protect a narrow passage across Jerusalem Avenue.  Every day, the enemy forces knocked them down again and again and again.  Then the Poles dug a trench.  Finally, they built a barricade.  And the brave Polish fighters began to flow across Jerusalem Avenue.  That narrow passageway, just a few feet wide, was the fragile link that kept the Uprising alive.

Between its walls, a constant stream of citizens and freedom fighters made their perilous, just perilous, sprints.  They ran across that street, they ran through that street, they ran under that street — all to defend this city.  “The far side was several yards away,” recalled one young Polish woman named Greta.  That mortality and that life was so important to her.  In fact, she said, “The mortally dangerous sector of the street was soaked in the blood.  It was the blood of messengers, liaison girls, and couriers.”

Nazi snipers shot at anybody who crossed.  Anybody who crossed, they were being shot at.  Their soldiers burned every building on the street, and they used the Poles as human shields for their tanks in their effort to capture Jerusalem Avenue.  The enemy never ceased its relentless assault on that small outpost of civilization.  And the Poles never ceased its defense.

The Jerusalem Avenue passage required constant protection, repair, and reinforcement, but the will of its defenders did not waver, even in the face of death.  And to the last days of the Uprising, the fragile crossing never, ever failed.  It was never, ever forgotten.  It was kept open by the Polish people.

The memories of those who perished in the Warsaw Uprising cry out across the decades, and few are clearer than the memories of those who died to build and defend the Jerusalem Avenue crossing.  Those heroes remind us that the West was saved with the blood of patriots; that each generation must rise up and play their part in its defense — (applause) — and that every foot of ground, and every last inch of civilization, is worth defending with your life.

Our own fight for the West does not begin on the battlefield — it begins with our minds, our wills, and our souls.  Today, the ties that unite our civilization are no less vital, and demand no less defense, than that bare shred of land on which the hope of Poland once totally rested.  Our freedom, our civilization, and our survival depend on these bonds of history, culture, and memory.

And today as ever, Poland is in our heart, and its people are in that fight.  (Applause.)  Just as Poland could not be broken, I declare today for the world to hear that the West will never, ever be broken.  Our values will prevail.  Our people will thrive.  And our civilization will triumph.  (Applause.)

AUDIENCE:  Donald Trump!  Donald Trump!  Donald Trump!

PRESIDENT TRUMP:  Thank you.  So, together, let us all fight like the Poles — for family, for freedom, for country, and for God.

Thank you.  God Bless You.  God bless the Polish people.  God bless our allies.  And God bless the United States of America.

Thank you.  God bless you.  Thank you very much.  (Applause.)

END
1:55 P.M. CEST

 

Full Text Political Transcripts July 4, 2017: President Donald Trump’s Remarks at 4th of July Military Appreciation Event

POLITICAL TRANSCRIPTS

TRUMP PRESIDENCY & 115TH CONGRESS:

Remarks by President Trump at 4th of July Military Appreciation Event

Source: WH, 7-4-17

South Lawn

5:16 P.M. EDT

THE PRESIDENT:  Welcome, everyone.  The rain stopped just as we came out.  I don’t know what that means, but it’s not bad.  (Laughter.)  And Happy Fourth of July.  Great honor to have you with us.  (Applause.)  Melania and I truly appreciate and celebrate America’s independence with those who courageously defend our country — the men, women and families of the United States military.

It is because of you that well over 300 million American citizens can live in freedom.  There is one military family here today I am especially excited to recognize:  Our great Vice President, Mike Pence, and our Second Lady — never heard that term before, but that’s what they say — and she is some lady, that I can tell you — of the United States, Karen Pence, are here along with their son, Marine First Lieutenant Michael Pence.  Where is Michael?  (Applause.)  Great.  It’s great, Michael.  Michael, not only are your parents proud of you, not only am I proud of you, but America, Michael, is very proud of you.  Thank you.

And America is proud of all of the brave men and women who serve in every branch of our great military.  We have outstanding representatives of each service, each branch.  They’re with us today. We have Army.  We have Navy.  We have Air Force.  (Applause.)  We have Marines.  (Applause.)  We have the Coast Guard.  (Laughter.)  We love our Coast Guard.

Representing the United States Army is Captain Jean Gwon.  She served 14 years, and today she is Company Commander in support of Old Guard, where she oversees the 120 soldiers who protect the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.  It’s beautiful.  Captain Gwon is joined today by her husband, Captain James Folwell.  Thank you both for your service, and thank you to every soldier here with us today and serving our nation, and serving us all around the world.  You are truly the army of the free.

From the Marines we have Marine Sergeant Yannick Tumukunde.  He’s with Marine Helicopter Squadron One, an outfit I’ve come to know and admire very much since arriving at the White House.  Sergeant Tumukunde is a senior technician and is the sole chief martial arts instructor and trainer for the entire squadron.  Thank you, and thank you for being here.  And also, we lay claim to a very special title.  You are a United States Marine.  That is a special title.  Thank you, Sergeant.

From the Navy we have Lieutenant Commander Allison Maybrey, a Navy oceanographer.  Her leadership has improved the atmosphere.  And really what she’s done is so incredible, having to do with sensing, modeling, and predicting the electromagnetic warfare capabilities of various countries that hopefully we won’t be thinking about too much.  But she’s there, and she’s got the information like nobody has.  We thank Allison and her husband, Lieutenant Commander Michael Maybrey, here with their children, Emma, Lily, and Amelia.  Our incredible sailors embody the Navy credo: “Not for self, but for country.”  Thank you.

From the Air Force we have Technical Sergeant Ralph Bunnell.  Sergeant Bunnell is responsible for leading 50 security forces personnel that protect the President, the Vice President, and visiting foreign heads of state.  A big job, a very important job.  We want to thank you — to Ralph and to your wife, Patricia.  And thank you to every member of the Air Force who gives our nation total superiority in the air, striking fear into the hearts of our enemies, and inspiring hope in the hearts of our friends all around the world.

Finally, representing the Coast Guard we have Petty Officer First Class Tony Franklin.  Tony is a Gunner’s Mate and is directly responsible for the armament of 17 units.  He has led countless gunnery and pyrotechnic demonstrations — so I don’t think the fireworks are going to impress him very much, but I will tell you they’re going to impress you.  (Laughter.)  Thank you, Tony.

I want to thank everyone in the Coast Guard.  I was at the Coast Guard Academy this year — gave the commencement address — and it was an amazing, incredible group of people and a really great day.  Thank you, Tony, very much.

Each of you here today represents that rare combination of patriotism, virtue, and courage that our citizens have always — and I mean always — admired and that our enemies have always feared.  At this moment, your brothers and sisters in arms are posted around the globe, fighting our enemies and standing watch to protect our nation.  They’re fighting for us.  We are thanking them, praying for them, and saluting them for their selfless sacrifice.

There could be no greater privilege than to serve as your Commander-in-Chief.  I pledge my unwavering support for you, for your families, and your missions.  I will always have your back.  I will always, under all circumstances — you’ll be coming back here, and I will always have your back.

And I want to just tell you that our country is doing really, really well.  No matter where you look, the economy is blazing.  And on every front we’re doing well.  And we do have challenges, but we will handle those challenges — believe me.

You’re part of a new, and a truly great generation.  Two days ago I spoke with Lieutenant Colonel Dick Cole, who served as the co-pilot of the lead B-25 bomber pilot — and piloted by Lieutenant Colonel Jimmy Doolittle during the daring 1942 raid, after the attack on Pearl Harbor.  Lieutenant Colonel Cole and the rest of the Doolittle Raiders launched their aircraft into the sky knowing that they would not have enough fuel to return to friendly territory.  That’s not a good feeling.  That’s a lot of courage.

Our servicemen and women are preserving the legacy of courage and selfless service that they inherited from Lieutenant Colonel Dick Cole and so many others.

May God bless you all.  May God bless our military.  May God bless forever the United States of America.

Thank you very much for being here.  Happy Fourth of July.  (Applause.)  Thank you very much.  Thank you.  Happy Fourth of July, everybody.  Thank you very much.

END
5:24 P.M. EDT

Full Text Political Transcripts June 16, 2017: President Donald Trump’s Remarks on the Policy of the United States Towards Cuba

POLITICAL TRANSCRIPTS

TRUMP PRESIDENCY & 115TH CONGRESS:

Remarks by President Trump on the Policy of the United States Towards Cuba

Source: WH, 6-16-17

Manuel Artime Theater
Miami, Florida

1:31 P.M. EDT

THE PRESIDENT:  Thank you, everybody.  Thank you very much.  Great honor.  And thank you to my truly great friend, Vice President Mike Pence — he’s terrific.  (Applause.)  And thank you to Miami.  We love Miami.

Let me start by saying that I’m glad Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and I, along with a very talented team, were able to get Otto Warmbier back with his parents.  (Applause.)  What’s happened to him is a truly terrible thing, but at least the ones who love him so much can now take care of him and be with him.

Also, my dear friend, Steve Scalise, took a bullet for all of us.  And because of him, and the tremendous pain and suffering he’s now enduring — he’s having a hard time, far worse than anybody thought — our country will perhaps become closer, more unified.  So important.

So we all owe Steve a big, big thank you.  And let’s keep the Warmbier family, and the Scalise family, and all of the victims of the congressional shooting, in our hearts and prayers.  And it was quite a day and our police officers were incredible, weren’t they?  They did a great job.  (Applause.)

And let us all pray for a future of peace, unity and safety for all of our people.  (Applause.)  Thank you.  And for Cuba.

I am so thrilled to be back here with all of my friends in Little Havana.  (Applause.)  I love it.  I love this city.

AUDIENCE MEMBER:  We love you?

THE PRESIDENT:  Thank you.  Thank you.

This is an amazing community, the Cuban-American community — so much love.  I saw that immediately.

AUDIENCE MEMBER:  We love you!

THE PRESIDENT:  Thank you, darling.  Oh do I love you, too.  (Applause.)

What you have built here — a vibrant culture, a thriving neighborhood, the spirit of adventure — is a testament to what a free Cuba could be.  And with God’s help, a free Cuba is what we will soon achieve.  (Applause.)

AUDIENCE:  USA! USA! USA!

THE PRESIDENT:  And I don’t even mind that it is 110 degrees up here.  (Laughter.)  This room is packed.  You know, it wasn’t designed for this.  I would like to thank the fire department.  (Laughter.)

We are delighted to be joined by so many friends and leaders of our great community.  I want to express our deep gratitude to a man who has really become a friend of mine — and I want to tell you, he is one tough competitor — Senator Marco Rubio.  (Applause.)  Great guy.  (Applause.)  He is tough, man.  He is tough and he’s good, and he loves you.  He loves you.

And I listened to another friend of mine, Congressman Mario Diaz-Balart — (applause) — and I’ll tell you, I loved what he said, and I appreciate it.  Mario, I appreciated what you said so much.  In fact I was looking for Mario.  I wanted to find him — they said he was onstage.  I almost dragged him off the stage to thank him, but now I’m thanking you anyway.  Thank you, Mario.  That was great.  Really appreciate it.

And I also want to thank my good friend, and just a man who was of tremendous support in the state of Florida, for being with us — Governor Rick Scott.  (Applause.)  Great job.  He’s doing a great job.  I hope he runs for the Senate.  I know I’m not supposed to say that.  I hope he runs for the Senate.  Rick, are you running?  (Applause.)  I don’t know.  Marco, let’s go, come on.  We got to get him to — I hope he runs for the Senate.

We are deeply honored to be joined by amazing Veterans of the Bay of Pigs.  (Applause.)  These are great people, amazing people.  (Applause.)

I have wonderful memories from our visit during the campaign.  That was some visit.  That was right before the election.  I guess it worked, right?  Boy, Florida, as a whole, and this community supported us by tremendous margins.  We appreciate it.

But including one of the big honors, and that was the honor of getting the Bay of Pigs award just before the election, and it’s great to be gathered in a place named for a true hero of the Cuban people.  And you know what that means.  (Applause.)

I was also looking forward to welcoming today two people who are not present — José Daniel Ferrer and Berta Soler — (applause) — were both prevented from leaving Cuba for this event.  So we acknowledge them.  They’re great friends — great help.  And although they could not be with us, we are with them 100 percent.  (Applause.)  We are with them.  Right?

Finally, I want to recognize everyone in the audience who has their own painful but important story to tell about the true and brutal nature of the Castro regime.  Brutal.  We thank the dissidents, the exiles, and the children of Operation Peter Pan — you know what that means — (applause) — and all who gather in the cafes, churches, and the streets in this incredible area and city to speak the truth and to stand for justice.  (Applause.)

And we want to thank you all for being a voice for the voiceless.  There are people –- it’s voiceless, but you are making up the difference, and we all want to thank you.  This group is amazing.  Just an incredible –- you are an incredible group of talented, passionate people.  Thank you.  Incredible group of people.

Many of you witnessed terrible crimes committed in service of a depraved ideology.  You saw the dreams of generations held by captive, and just, literally, you look at what happened and what communism has done.  You knew faces that disappeared, innocents locked in prisons, and believers persecuted for preaching the word of God.  You watched the Women in White bruised, bloodied, and captured on their way from Mass.  You have heard the chilling cries of loved ones, or the cracks of firing squads piercing through the ocean breeze.  Not a good sound.

Among the courageous Cuban dissidents with us onstage here today are Cary Roque, who was imprisoned by the Castro regime 15 years ago.  (Applause.)  She looks awfully good.

MS. ROQUE:  Thank you, Mr. President.  Thank you, Mr. Vice President.  Thank you, Marco Rubio, Mario Diaz-Balart.  Thank you to all the men and the Cubans who fight no matter what — for the Cuban liberty.  Mr. President, on behalf of the Cuban people, the people inside my eyes, my homeland, thank you.  Thank you, and we appreciate your love.  (Applause.)

THE PRESIDENT:  Thank you.  Wow.  That’s pretty good.  She didn’t know she was going to do that either, I will tell you.  Thank you very much.

Antunez, imprisoned for 17 years.  Where is he?  (Applause.)  I love that name.  Antunez — I love that name –and Angel De Fana, imprisoned for over 20 years.  (Applause.)  Thank you.  Thank you.  Very brave people.

The exiles and dissidents here today have witnessed communism destroy a nation, just as communism has destroyed every single nation where it has ever been tried.  (Applause.)  But we will not be silent in the face of communist oppression any longer.  You have seen the truth, you have spoken the truth, and the truth has now called us — this group — called us to action.  Thank you.

Last year, I promised to be a voice against repression in our region — remember, tremendous oppression — and a voice for the freedom of the Cuban people.  You heard that pledge.  You exercised the right you have to vote.  You went out and you voted.  And here I am like I promised — like I promised.  (Applause.)

I promised you — I keep my promises.  Sometimes in politics, they take a little bit longer, but we get there.  We get there.  Don’t we get there?  You better believe it, Mike.  We get there.  (Laughter.)  Thank you.  Thank you.  No, we keep our promise.

And now that I am your President, America will expose the crimes of the Castro regime and stand with the Cuban people in their struggle for freedom.  Because we know it is best for America to have freedom in our hemisphere, whether in Cuba or Venezuela, and to have a future where the people of each country can live out their own dreams.  (Applause.)

For nearly six decades, the Cuban people have suffered under communist domination.  To this day, Cuba is ruled by the same people who killed tens of thousands of their own citizens, who sought to spread their repressive and failed ideology throughout our hemisphere, and who once tried to host enemy nuclear weapons 90 miles from our shores.

The Castro regime has shipped arms to North Korea and fueled chaos in Venezuela.  While imprisoning innocents, it has harbored cop killers, hijackers, and terrorists.  It has supported human trafficking, forced labor, and exploitation all around the globe.  This is the simple truth of the Castro regime. (Applause.)

My administration will not hide from it, excuse it, or glamorize it.  And we will never, ever be blind to it.  We know what’s going on and we remember what happened.  (Applause.)

On my recent trip overseas, I said the United States is adopting a principled realism, rooted in our values, shared interests, and common sense.  I also said countries should take greater responsibility for creating stability in their own regions.  It’s hard to think of a policy that makes less sense than the prior administration’s terrible and misguided deal with the Castro regime.  (Applause.)  Well, you have to say, the Iran deal was pretty bad also.  Let’s not forget that beauty.

They made a deal with a government that spreads violence and instability in the region and nothing they got — think of it — nothing they got — they fought for everything and we just didn’t fight hard enough.  But now those days are over.  Now we hold the cards.  We now hold the cards.  (Applause.)

The previous administration’s easing of restrictions on travel and trade does not help the Cuban people — they only enrich the Cuban regime.  (Applause.)  The profits from investment and tourism flow directly to the military.  The regime takes the money and owns the industry.  The outcome of the last administration’s executive action has been only more repression and a move to crush the peaceful, democratic movement.

Therefore, effective immediately, I am canceling the last administration’s completely one-sided deal with Cuba.  (Applause.)

AUDIENCE:  Trump!  Trump!  Trump!

THE PRESIDENT:  I am announcing today a new policy, just as I promised during the campaign, and I will be signing that contract right at that table in just a moment.  (Applause.)

Our policy will seek a much better deal for the Cuban people and for the United States of America.  We do not want U.S. dollars to prop up a military monopoly that exploits and abuses the citizens of Cuba.

Our new policy begins with strictly enforcing U.S. law.  (Applause.)  We will not lift sanctions on the Cuban regime until all political prisoners are freed, freedoms of assembly and expression are respected, all political parties are legalized, and free and internationally supervised elections are scheduled.  Elections.  (Applause.)

We will very strongly restrict American dollars flowing to the military, security and intelligence services that are the core of Castro regime.  They will be restricted.  We will enforce the ban on tourism.  We will enforce the embargo.  We will take concrete steps to ensure that investments flow directly to the people, so they can open private businesses and begin to build their country’s great, great future — a country of great potential.  (Applause.)

My action today bypasses the military and the government, to help the Cuban people themselves form businesses and pursue much better lives.  We will keep in place the safeguards to prevent Cubans from risking their lives to unlawful travel to the United States.  They are in such danger the way they have to come to this country, and we are going to be safeguarding those people.  We have to.  We have no choice.  We have to.  (Applause.)

And we will work for the day when a new generation of leaders brings this long reign of suffering to an end.  And I do believe that end is in the very near future.  (Applause.)

We challenge Cuba to come to the table with a new agreement that is in the best interests of both their people and our people and also of Cuban Americans.

To the Cuban government, I say:  Put an end to the abuse of dissidents.  Release the political prisoners.  Stop jailing innocent people.  Open yourselves to political and economic freedoms.  Return the fugitives from American justice — including the return of the cop-killer Joanne Chesimard.  (Applause.)

And finally, hand over the Cuban military criminals who shot down and killed four brave members of Brothers to the Rescue who were in unarmed, small, slow civilian planes.  (Applause.)

Those victims included Mario de la Pena, Jr., and Carlos Costa.  We are honored to be joined by Mario’s parents, Miriam and Mario, and Carlos’s sister, Mirta.  Where are you?  (Applause.)  Those are great, great parents who love their children so much.  What they’ve done is just an incredible, incredible thing — what they represent — they did not die in vain — what they represent to everybody, and especially to the Cuban people.  So your children did not die in vain, believe me.  (Applause.)

So to the Castro regime, I repeat:  The harboring of criminals and fugitives will end.  You have no choice.  It will end.  (Applause.)

Any changes to the relationship between the United States and Cuba will depend on real progress toward these and the other goals, many of which I’ve described.  When Cuba is ready to take concrete steps to these ends, we will be ready, willing, and able to come to the table to negotiate that much better deal for Cubans, for Americans.  Much better deal and a deal that’s fair.  A deal that’s fair and a deal that makes sense.

Our embassy remains open in the hope that our countries can forge a much stronger and better path.  America believes that free, independent, and sovereign nations are the best vehicle for human happiness, for health, for education, for safety, for everything.  We all accept that all nations have the right to chart their own paths — and I’m certainly a very big believer in that — so we will respect Cuban sovereignty.  But we will never turn our backs on the Cuban people.  That will not happen.  (Applause.)

Over the years, a special sympathy has grown between this land of the free, and the beautiful people of that island, so close to our shores and so deeply woven into the history of our region.  America has rejected the Cuban people’s oppressors.  They are rejected.  Officially today, they are rejected.  (Applause.)  And to those people, America has become a source of strength, and our flag a symbol of hope.

I know that is exactly what America is to you and what it represents to you.  It represents the same to me.  It represents the same to all of us.  And that is what it was to a little boy, Luis Haza.  You ever hear of Luis?  He became very famous, great talent — just eight years old when Fidel Castro seized power. At the time, Luis’s father was the police chief in Santiago de Cuba.  You know Santiago?  Yeah?  Oh, they know Santiago.  Just days after Fidel took control, his father was one of 71 Cubans executed by firing squad near San Juan Hill at the hands of the Castro regime.

Luis buried his grief in his great love of music.  He began playing the violin so brilliantly and so beautifully.  Soon the regime saw his incredible gift and wanted to use him for propaganda purposes.  When he was 12, they organized a national television special and demanded he play a solo for Raul Castro  — who by the way is leaving now.  I wonder why.

They sent an official to fetch Luis from his home.  But Luis refused to go.  And a few days later, Castro’s soldiers barged into his orchestra practice area, guns blazing.  They told him to play for them.  Terrified, Luis began to play.  And the entire room was stunned by what they heard.  Ringing out from the trembling boy’s violin was a tune they all recognized.  This young Cuban boy was playing “The Star Spangled Banner.”  (Applause.)  Luis played the American National Anthem all the way through, and when he finished, the room was dead silent.

When we say that America stands as a symbol to the world — a symbol of freedom, and a symbol of hope — that is what Luis meant, and that is what Luis displayed that day.  It was a big day.  It was a great day.  And that is what we will all remain. That was a very important moment, just like this is now, for Cuba.  A very important moment.  (Applause.)  America will always stand for liberty, and America will always pray and cheer for the freedom of the Cuban people.

Now, that little boy, whose story I just told you, the one who played that violin so beautifully so many years ago, is here with us today in our very, very packed and extremely warm auditorium.  (Laughter.)  Of course, he is no longer a little boy, but a world-renowned violinist and conductor — one of the greats.  And today he will once again play his violin and fill the hearts of all who love and cherish Cuba, the United States, and freedom.  (Applause.)

I would like to now invite Luis to the stage.

Luis.  (Applause.)

(Luis Haza plays The Star-Spangled Banner on the violin.)

AUDIENCE:  USA! USA! USA!  (Applause.)

THE PRESIDENT:  Thank you, Luis.  I just said, so where were you more nervous?  Today or then?  He said, honestly, I think today.  That’s pretty — (laughter.)  Thank you, Luis, that was beautiful.

So I want to thank Miami.  I want to thank Little Havana.  Havana, we love.  Do we love it?  Would you move anywhere else?  You wouldn’t move to Palm Beach, would you?  No.  No way.  Little Havana.

And I want to thank all of our great friends here today.  You’ve been amazing, loyal, beautiful people.  And thank you.  Don’t remind me.  Actually, I was telling Mike, so it was two days — on my birthday — until a big day, which turned out to be tomorrow — the 16th.  That was the day I came down with Melania on the escalator at Trump Tower.  That’s tomorrow.  (Applause.)  So it’s exactly tomorrow — two years since we announced.  And it worked out okay.  Worked out okay.  (Applause.)  It’s a great honor.  Believe me, it’s a great honor.  Right?

AUDIENCE:  (Sings Happy Birthday.)

THE PRESIDENT:  Thank you.  Thank you very much.

I just want to end by saying may God bless everyone searching for freedom.  May God bless Cuba.  May God bless the United States of America.  And God bless you all.  Thank you.  Now I’m going to sign.  Thank you.
(The President participates in a signing.)

So this says, “strengthening the policy of the United States toward Cuba.”  And I can add, “strengthening a lot.”  (Laughter.)  So this is very important, and you watch what’s going to happen.  Going to be a great day for Cuba.

Thank you.  Thank you very much.  (Applause.)

END
2:09 P.M. EDT

Full Text Political Transcripts June 14, 2017: President Donald Trump’s Statement on the Steve Scalise Shooting in Virginia

POLITICAL TRANSCRIPTS

TRUMP PRESIDENCY & 115TH CONGRESS:

Statement by President Trump on the Shooting in Virginia

Source: WH, 6-14-17

Diplomatic Room

11:36 A.M. EDT

THE PRESIDENT:  As you all know, shortly after 7:00 a.m. this morning, a gunman opened fire on members of Congress and their staffs as they were practicing for tomorrow’s annual charity baseball game.

Authorities are continuing to investigate the crime, and the assailant has now died from his injuries.  The FBI is leading the investigation and will continue to provide updates as new information becomes available.

Congressman Steve Scalise, a member of House leadership, was shot and badly wounded, and is now in stable condition at the hospital, along with two very courageous Capitol Police officers.  At least two others were also wounded.

Many lives would have been lost if not for the heroic actions of the two Capitol Police officers who took down the gunman despite sustaining gunshot wounds during a very, very brutal assault.

Melania and I are grateful for their heroism and praying for the swift recovery of all victims.

Congressman Scalise is a friend, and a very good friend.  He’s a patriot and he’s a fighter.  He will recover from this assault.  And, Steve, I want you to know that you have the prayers not only of the entire city behind you, but of an entire nation and, frankly, the entire world.  America is praying for you and America is praying for all of the victims of this terrible shooting.

I spoke with Steve’s wife, Jennifer, and I pledged to her our full and absolute support — anything she needs.  We are with her and with the entire Scalise family.

I have also spoken with Chief Matthew Verderosa — he’s doing a fantastic job — of the Capitol Police to express our sympathies for his wounded officers and to express my admiration for their courage.  Our brave Capitol Police perform a challenging job with incredible skill, and their sacrifice makes democracy possible.

We also commend the brave first responders from Alexandria Police, Fire and Rescue who rushed to the scene.  Everyone on that field is a public servant — our courageous police, our congressional aides who work so tirelessly behind the scenes with enormous devotion, and our dedicated members of Congress who represent our people.

We may have our differences, but we do well, in times like these, to remember that everyone who serves in our nation’s capital is here because, above all, they love our country.

We can all agree that we are blessed to be Americans, that our children deserve to grow up in a nation of safety and peace, and that we are strongest when we are unified and when we work together for the common good.

Please take a moment today to cherish those you love, and always remember those who serve and keep us safe.  God bless them all, God bless you, and God Bless America.

Thank you.

END
11:40 A.M. EDT

 

Full Text Political Transcripts June 13, 2017: President Donald Trump’s Remarks on Healthcare

POLITICAL TRANSCRIPTS

TRUMP PRESIDENCY & 115TH CONGRESS:

Remarks by President Trump on Healthcare

Source: WH, 6-13-17

General Mitchell International Airport
Milwaukee, Wisconsin

3:14 P.M. CDT

THE PRESIDENT:  Thank you.  Thank you, everybody.  Thank you very much.

Millions of American families — and I mean millions — continue to suffer from Obamacare while congressional Democrats obstruct our efforts to rescue them.  And I’ll tell you, that’s exactly what’s happening.  The Democrats have let you down, big league.  Standing beside me are two such families, representing so many others — millions of people — who have been victimized by Obamacare — terrible law.

My thanks to Michael and Tammy Kushman from Marinette County, and Robert and Sarah Stoll from Kenosha, as well as their wonderful families, for joining us today.  We appreciate it.  We appreciate all the people being here.  Thank you, folks.  (Applause.)  They love their country, play by the rules, and work hard to give their loved ones the best life possible.

Michael Kushman is a proud veteran of the United States Army Medical Service Core.  He and his wife Tammy were forced onto the Obamacare exchange in 2015 — and like countless others, they were shocked to learn that they couldn’t keep their doctor as promised.   They couldn’t keep their plan as promised.  They started out paying $600 per month.  Then their insurer quit the exchange, so they had to switch to a new plan, and it went up to $1,000 a month.  And it keeps going up and up and up.  And that’s where we are today.  Now it’s over $1,400 per month.  They’ve been forced off their plans and onto a new one three times in three years.  Their premiums have soared 127 percent.  The Kushmans now spend nearly one-fourth of their net monthly income on health insurance.  So — both of you, both families.  Both great families.

Robert and his wife Sarah Stoll have also endured enormous pain under the crushing burden of Obamacare.  Robert serves as a volunteer captain for the Randall Fire Department.  He was a small business owner for 30 years.  But their Obamacare premiums doubled, and Sarah was forced to leave retirement and find a part-time job just to pay the bills.  When she did so, making matters worse, their new income meant they were no longer eligible for the tax credit they had once received — and the federal government actually forced them to repay thousands of dollars.

These are sad — I agree, that’s true.  Has it happened to you also?  Yes.  Yeah, it has.  These are sad but familiar stories in Wisconsin, where Obamacare premiums have doubled.  Obamacare is one of the greatest catastrophes that our country has signed into law — and the victims are innocent, hardworking Americans like Michael and Tammy, Robert and Sarah.  These citizens deserve so much better.

The House of Representatives has passed on to the Senate, and the Senate is getting ready to do something — hopefully it will get done — where we will come up with a solution, and a really good one, to healthcare.  No matter how good it is, we will get no obstructionist Democrat votes.  No matter how good it is — if it’s the greatest healthcare plan ever devised, we will get zero votes by the obstructionists, the Democrats.  It’s time to give American families quality, reliable, affordable healthcare — and that’s what we are working very hard to do.  And we’ll get it done.

So I want to thank you, I want to thank the families — thank you very much — for being here.  And I love being in Wisconsin.  I love being in Wisconsin.  Thank you.  (Applause.)

END
3:19 P.M. CDT

Full Text Political Transcripts June 8, 2017: President Donald Trump’s lawyer Marc Kasowitz’s statement on James Comey Senate hearing

POLITICAL TRANSCRIPTS

TRUMP PRESIDENCY & 115TH CONGRESS:

President Donald Trump’s lawyer’s statement on Comey Senate hearing

Source: CNN, 6-8-17

I am Marc Kasowitz, President Trump’s personal lawyer.

Contrary to numerous false press accounts leading up to today’s hearing, Mr. Comey has now finally confirmed publicly what he repeatedly told the President privately: The President was not under investigation as part of any probe into Russian interference. He also admitted that there is no evidence that a single vote changed as a result of any Russian interference.
Mr Comey’s testimony also makes clear that the President never sought to impede the investigation into attempted Russian interference in the 2016 election, and in fact, according to Mr. Comey, the President told Mr. Comey “it would be good to find out” in that investigation if there were “some ‘satellite’ associates of his who did something wrong.” And he did not exclude anyone from that statement.
Consistent with that statement, the President never, in form or substance, directed or suggested that Mr. Comey stop investigating anyone, including suggesting that that Mr. Comey”let Flynn go.” As he publicly stated the next day, he did say to Mr. Comey, “General Flynn is a good guy, he has been through a lot” and also “asked how is General Flynn is doing.” Admiral Rogers testified that the President never “directed [him] to do anything . . . illegal, immoral, unethical or inappropriate” and never “pressured [him] to do so.” Director Coates said the same thing. The President likewise never pressured Mr. Comey. .
The President also never told Mr. Comey, “I need loyalty, I expect loyalty” in form or substance. Of course, the Office of the President is entitled to expect loyalty from those who are serving in an administration, and, from before this President took office to this day, it is overwhelmingly clear that there have been and continue to be those in government who are actively attempting to undermine this administration with selective and illegal leaks of classified information and privileged communications. Mr. Comey has now admitted that he is one of these leakers.
Today, Mr. Comey admitted that he unilaterally and surreptitiously made unauthorized disclosures to the press of privileged communications with the President. The leaks of this privileged information began no later than March 2017 when friends of Mr. Comey have stated he disclosed to them the conversations he had with the President during their January 27, 2017 dinner and February 14, 2017 White House meeting. Today, Mr. Comey admitted that he leaked to friends his purported memos of these privileged conversations, one of which he testified was classified. He also testified that immediately after he was terminated he authorized his friends to leak the contents of these memos to the press in order to “prompt the appointment of a special counsel.” Although Mr. Comey testified he only leaked the memos in response to a tweet, the public record reveals that the New York Times was quoting from these memos the day before the referenced tweet, which belies Mr. Comey’s excuse for this unauthorized disclosure of privileged information and appears to entirely retaliatory. We will leave it the appropriate authorities to determine whether this leaks should be investigated along with all those others being investigated. .
​ In sum, it is now established that there the President was not being investigated for colluding with the or attempting to obstruct that investigation. As the Committee pointed out today, these important facts for the country to know are virtually the only facts that have not leaked during the long course of these events. As he said yesterday, the President feels completely vindicated and is eager to continue moving forward with his agenda with this public cloud removed. Thank you.

Full Text Political Transcripts June 8, 2017: James Comey testimony before the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence on Trump and Russia

POLITICAL TRANSCRIPTS

TRUMP PRESIDENCY & 115TH CONGRESS:

Full text: James Comey testimony transcript on Trump and Russia

Source: Politico, 6-8-17

A transcript of former FBI Director James Comey’s testimony before the Senate Intelligence Committee on June 8.

SEN. RICHARD BURR: I call this hearing to order. Director Comey, I appreciate your willingness to appear before the committee today, and more importantly I thank you for your dedicated service and leadership to the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Your appearance today speaks to the trust we have built over the years and I’m looking forward to a very open and candid discussion today. I’d like to remind my colleagues that we will reconvene in closed session at 1:00 P.M. today, and I ask that you reserve for that venue any questions that might get into classified information. The director has been very gracious with his time, the vice chairman and I worked out a very specific timeline for his commitment to be on the hill, so we will do everything we can to meet that agreement.

The Senate Select Committee on Intelligence exists to certify for the other 85 members of the United States Senate and the American people that the intelligence community is operating lawfully, and has the necessary authorities and tools to accomplish its mission, and keep America safe. Part of our mission, beyond the oversight we continue to provide to the intelligence community and its activities, is to investigate Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. elections. The committee’s work continues. This hearing represents part of that effort. Jim, allegations have been swirling in the press for the last several weeks and today is your opportunity to set the record straight. Yesterday, I read with interest your statement for the record, and I think it provides some helpful details surrounding your interactions with the president. It clearly lays out your understanding of those discussions, actions you took following each conversation and your state of mind.

I very much appreciate your candor, and I think it provides helpful details surrounding your interactions with the president. It clearly lays out your understanding of those discussions, actions you took following each conversation and your state of mind.

I very much appreciate your candor, and I think it’s helpful as we work through to determine the ultimate truth behind possible Russian interference in the 2016 elections. Your statement also provides texture and context to your interactions with the president, from your vantage point, and outlines a strained relationship. The American people need to hear your side of the story, just as they need to hear the president’s descriptions of events. These interactions also highlight the importance of the committee’s ongoing investigation. Our experienced staff is interviewing all relevant parties and some of the most sensitive intelligence in our country’s possession. We will establish the facts separate from rampant speculation and lay them out for the American people to make their own judgment.

Only then will we as a nation be able to move forward and to put this episode to rest. There are several outstanding issues not addressed in your statement that I hope you’ll clear up for the American people today. Did the president’s request for loyalty, your impression, let the one-on-one dinner of January 27th was and I quote “at least in part” an effort to create some patronage relationship and March 30th phone call asking what you could do to lift the cloud of Russia investigation in any way alter your approach of the FBI’s investigation into general Flynn or the broader investigation into Russia, and possible links to the campaign? In your opinion did potential Russian efforts to establish a link with individuals in the Trump orbit rise to the level we could define as collusion or was it a counter-intelligence concern? There’s been a significant public speculation about your decision-making related to the Clinton email investigation. Why did you decide publicly, to publicly announce, FBI’s recommendations that the Department of Justice not pursue criminal charges? You have described it as a choice between a bad decision and a worse decision. The American people need to understand the facts behind your action. This committee is uniquely suited to investigate Russia’s interference in the 2016 elections. We also have a unified bipartisan approach to what is a highly charged partisan issue. Russian activities during 2016 election may have been aimed at one party’s candidate, but as my colleague senator Rubio says frequently, in 2018 and 2020, it could be aimed at anyone, at home or abroad.

My colleague, Senator Warner and I, have worked to stay in lock step on this investigation. We’ve had our differences on approach, at times, but I’ve constantly stressed that we need to be a team, and I think Senator Warner agrees with me. We must keep these questions above politics and partisanship. It’s too important to be tainted by anyone trying to score political points. With that, again, I welcome you director, and I turn to the vice chairman for any comments he might have.

SEN. MARK WARNER: Thank you, Mr. Chairman and let me start by again absolutely thanking all the members of the committee for the seriousness in which they’ve taken on this task. Mr. Comey, thank you for agreeing to come testify as part of this committee’s investigation into Russia. I realize this hearing has been obviously the focus of a lot of Washington, in the last few days. But the truth is, many Americans who may be tuning in today probably haven’t focused on every twist and turn of the investigation. So I’d like to briefly describe, at least from this senator’s standpoint, what we already know, and what we’re still investigating. To be clear, this investigation is not about relitigating the election. It’s not about who won or lost. And it sure as heck is not about Democrats versus Republicans. We are here because a foreign adversary attacked us right here at home, plain and simple. Not by guns or missiles, but by foreign operatives seeking to hijack our most important democratic process, our presidential election. Russian spies engaged in a series of online cyber raids, and a broad campaign of disinformation, all ultimately aimed at sowing chaos to undermine public faith in our process, in our leadership, and ultimately in ourselves.

And that’s not just this senator’s opinion. It is the unanimous determination of the entire U.S. intelligence community. So we must find out the full story, what the Russians did, and candidly as some other colleagues mentioned, why they were so successful, and more importantly we must determine the necessary steps to take to protect our democracy and ensure they can’t do it again. The chairman mentioned elections in 2018 and 2020, in my home state of Virginia, we have elections this year in 2017. Simply put, we cannot let anything or anyone prevent us from getting to the bottom of this. Now Mr. Comey, let me say at the outset, we haven’t always agreed on every issue. In fact I’ve occasionally questioned some of the actions you’ve taken, but I’ve never had any reason to question your integrity, your expertise, or your intelligence. You’ve been a straight shooter with this committee and have been willing to speak truth to power, even at the risk of your own career, which makes the way in which you were fired by the president ultimately shocking. Recall we began this entire process with the president and his staff first denying that the Russians were ever involved and then falsely claiming that no one from his team was ever in touch with any Russians. We know that’s just not the truth. Numerous Trump associates had undisclosed contacts with Russians before and after the election, including the president’s attorney general, his former national security adviser and his current senior adviser, Mr. Kushner. That doesn’t even begin to count the host of additional campaign associates and advisers who have also been caught up in this massive web.

We saw Mr. Trump’s campaign manager, Mr. Manafort, forced to step down over ties to Russian back entities. The national security adviser, General Flynn, had to resign over his lies about engagements with the Russians, and we saw the candidate himself express an odd and unexplained affection for the Russian dictator while calling for the hacking of his opponent. There’s a lot to investigate. Enough, in fact, that director Comey publicly acknowledged that he was leading an investigation into those links between Mr. Trump’s campaign and the Russian government. As the director of the FBI, Mr. Comey was ultimately responsible for conducting that investigation, which might explain why you’re sitting now as a private citizen. What we do know was at the same time that this investigation was proceeding, the president himself appears to have been engaged in an effort to influence or at least co-opt the director of the FBI. The testimony Mr. Comey submitted for today’s hearing is very disturbing. For example, on January 27th, after summoning Director Comey to dinner, the president appears to have threatened director’s job while telling him “I need loyalty. I expect loyalty.” At a later meeting, on February 14th, the president asked the attorney general to leave the Oval Office, so that he could privately ask Director Comey again “To see way clear to letting Flynn go.” That is a statement that Director Comey interpreted as a request that he drop the investigation connected to general Flynn’s false statements.

Think about it. The president of the United States asking the FBI Director to drop an ongoing investigation. And after that, the president called the FBI Director on two additional occasions, March 30th and April 11th and asked him again “To lift the cloud on the Russian investigation.” Now, Director Comey denied each of these improper requests. The loyalty pledge, the admonition to drop the Flynn investigation, the request to lift the cloud on the Russian investigation. Of course, after his refusals, Director Comey was fired. The initial explanation for the firing didn’t pass any smell test. So now Director Comey was fired because he didn’t treat Hillary Clinton appropriately.

Of course that explanation lasted about a day, because the president himself then made very clear that he was thinking about Russia when he decided to fire Director Comey. Shockingly, reports suggest that the president admitted as much in an Oval Office meeting with the Russians the day after director Comey was fired. Disparaging our country’s top law enforcement official as a “nutjob,” the president allegedly suggested that his firing relieved great pressure on his feelings about Russia. This is not happening in isolation. At the same time, the president was engaged in these efforts with Director Comey, he was also at least allegedly asking senior leaders of the intelligence community to downplay the Russia investigation or to intervene with the director. Yesterday we had DNI Director Coats and NSA Director Admiral Rogers, who were offered a number of opportunities to flatly deny those press reports. They expressed their opinions, but they did not take that opportunity to deny those reports. They did not take advantage of that opportunity. My belief, that’s not how the President of the United States should behave. Regardless of the outcome of our investigation into the Russia links, Director Comey’s firing and his testimony raise separate and troubling questions that we must get to the bottom of. Again, as I said at the outset, I’ve seen firsthand how seriously every member of this committee is taking his work. I’m proud of the committee’s efforts so far. Let me be clear. This is not a witch hunt. This is not fake news. It is an effort to protect our I can from a new threat that quite honestly will not go away any time soon.

So Mr. Comey, your testimony here today will help us move towards that goal. I look forward to that testimony. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

BURR: Thank you, vice chairman. Director has discussed when you agreed to appear before the committee it would be under oath. I’d ask you to please stand. Raise your right hand.

Do you solemnly swear to tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth so help you god?

FORMER FBI DIRECTOR JAMES COMEY: I do.

BURR: Please be seated. Director Comey you’re now under oath. And I would just note to members, you will be recognized by seniority for a period up to seven minutes, and again, it is the intent to move to a closed session no later than 1:00 P.M. With that director Comey, you are recognized, you have the floor for as long as you might need.

COMEY: Thank you, Mr. Chairman, ranking member Warner, members of the committee, thank you for inviting me here to testify today. I’ve submitted my statement for the record, and I’m not going to repeat it here this morning. I thought I would just offer some very brief introductory remarks and I would welcome your questions. When I was appointed FBI Director in 2013, I understood that I served at the pleasure of the president. Even though I was appointed to a 10-year term, which Congress created in order to underscore the importance of the FBI being outside of politics and independent, I understood that I could be fired by a president for any reason or for no reason at all. And on May the ninth, when I learned that I had been fired, for that reason I immediately came home as a private citizen. But then the explanations, the shifting explanations, confused me and increasingly concerned me. They confused me because the president and I had had multiple conversations about my job, both before and after he took office, and he had repeatedly told me I was doing a great job, and he hoped I would stay. And I had repeatedly assured him that I did intend to stay and serve out the years of my term. He told me repeatedly that he had talked to lots of people about me, including our current Attorney General, and had learned that I was doing a great job, and that I was extremely well-liked by the FBI workforce.

So it confused me when I saw on television the president saying that he actually fired me because of the Russia investigation, and learned again from the media that he was telling privately other parties that my firing had relieved great pressure on the Russian investigation. I was also confused by the initial explanation that was offered publicly that I was fired because of the decisions I had made during the election year. That didn’t make sense to me for a whole bunch of reasons, including the time and all the water that had gone under the bridge since those hard decisions that had to be made. That didn’t make any sense to me. And although the law required no reason at all to fire an FBI director, the administration then chose to defame me and more importantly the FBI by saying that the organization was in disarray, that it was poorly led, that the workforce had lost confidence in its leader. Those were lies, plain and simple. And I am so sorry that the FBI workforce had to hear them, and I’m so sorry that the American people were told them.

I worked every day at the FBI to help make that great organization better, and I say help, because I did nothing alone at the FBI. There no indispensable people at the FBI. The organization’s great strength is that its values and abilities run deep and wide. The FBI will be fine without me. The FBI’s mission will be relentlessly pursued by its people, and that mission is to protect the American people and uphold the constitution of the United States. I will deeply miss being part of that mission, but this organization and its mission will go on long beyond me and long beyond any particular administration. I have a message before I close for my former colleagues of the FBI but first I want the American people to know this truth. The FBI is honest. The FBI is strong. And the FBI is and always will be independent. And now to my former colleagues, if I may. I am so sorry that I didn’t get the chance to say goodbye to you properly. It was the nor of my life to serve beside you, to be part of the FBI family, and I will miss it for the rest of my life. Thank you for standing watch. Thank you for doing so much good for this country. Do that good as long as ever you can. And senators, I look forward to your questions.

BURR: Director, thank you for that testimony, both oral and the written testimony that you provided to the committee yesterday and made public to the American people. The chair would recognize himself first for 12 minutes, vice chair for 12 minutes, based upon the agreement we have. Director, did the special counsel’s office review and/or edit your written testimony?

COMEY: No.

BURR: Do you have any doubt that Russia attempted to interfere in the 2016 elections?

COMEY: None.

BURR: Do you have any doubt that the Russian government was behind the intrusions in the D triple C systems and the subsequent leaks of that information?

COMEY: No, no doubt.

BURR: Do you have any doubt the Russian government was behind the cyber intrusion in the state voter files?

COMEY: No.

BURR: Are you confident that no votes cast in the 2016 presidential election were altered?

COMEY: I’m confident. When I left as director I had seen no indication of that whatsoever.

BURR: Director Comey, did the president at any time ask you to stop the FBI investigation into Russian involvement in the 2016 U.S. Elections?

COMEY: Not to my understanding, no.

BURR: Did any individual working for this administration, including the justice department, ask you to stop the Russian investigation?

COMEY: No.

BURR: Director, when the president requested that you, and I quote “Let Flynn go,” General Flynn had an unreported contact with the Russians, which is an offense, and if press accounts are right, there might have been discrepancies between facts and his FBI testimony. In your estimation, was general Flynn at that time in serious legal jeopardy, and in addition to that, do you sense that the president was trying to obstruct justice or just seek for a way for Mike Flynn to save face, given that he had already been fired?

COMEY: General Flynn at that point in time was in legal jeopardy. There was an open FBI criminal investigation of his statements in connection with the Russian contacts, and the contacts themselves, and so that was my assessment at the time. I don’t think it’s for me to say whether the conversation I had with the president was an effort to obstruct. I took it as a very disturbing thing, very concerning, but that’s a conclusion I’m sure the special counsel will work towards to try and understand what the intention was there, and whether that’s an offense.

BURR: Director, is it possible that, as part of this FBI investigation, the FBI could find evidence of criminality that is not tied to the 2016 elections, possible collusion, or coordination with Russians?

COMEY: Sure.

BURR: So there could be something that fits a criminal aspect to this that doesn’t have anything to do with the 2016 election cycle?

COMEY: Correct, in any complex investigation, when you start turning over rocks, sometimes you find things that are unrelated to the primary investigation that are criminal in nature.

BURR: Director, Comey, you have been criticized publicly for the decision to present your findings on the email investigation directly to the American people. Have you learned anything since that time that would have changed what you said or how you chose to inform the American people?

COMEY: Honestly, no. It caused a whole lot of personal pain for me but as I look back, given what I knew at the time and even what I’ve learned since, I think it was the best way to try to protect the justice institution, including the FBI.

BURR: In the public domain is this question of the “steel dossier,” a document that has been around out in for over a year. I’m not sure when the FBI first took possession of it, but the media had it before you had it and we had it. At the time of your departure from the FBI, was the FBI able to confirm any criminal allegations contained in the steel document?

COMEY: Mr. Chairman, I don’t think that’s a question I can answer in an open setting because it goes into the details of the investigation.

BURR: Director, the term we hear most often is collusion. When people are describing possible links between Americans and Russian government entities related to the interference in our election, would you say that it’s Normal for foreign governments to reach out to members of an incoming administration?

COMEY: Yes.

BURR: At what point does the normal contact cross the line into an attempt to recruit agents or influence or spies?

COMEY: Difficult to say in the abstract. It depends upon the context, whether there’s an effort to keep it covert, what the nature of the request made of the American by the foreign government are. It’s a judgment call based on a whole lot of facts.

BURR: At what point would that recruitment become a counterintelligence threat to our country?

COMEY: Again, difficult to answer in the abstract, but when a foreign power is using especially coercion, or some sort of pressure to try and co-opt an American, especially a government official, to act on its behalf, that’s a serious concern to the FBI and at the heart of the FBI’s counterintelligence mission.

BURR: So if you’ve got a 36-page document of specific claims that are out there, the FBI would have to for counter intelligence reasons, try to verify anything that might be claimed in there, one, and probably first and foremost, is the counterintelligence concerns that we have about blackmail. Would that be an accurate statement?

COMEY: Yes. If the FBI receives a credible allegation that there is some effort to co-opt, coerce, direct, employee covertly an American on behalf of the foreign power, that’s the basis on which a counterintelligence investigation is opened.

BURR: And when you read the dossier, what was your reaction, given that it was 100% directed at the president-elect?

COMEY: Not a question I can answer in open setting, Mr. Chairman.

BURR: Okay. When did you become aware of the cyber intrusion?

COMEY: The first cyber — there was all kinds of cyber intrusions going on all the time. The first Russian-connected cyber intrusion I became aware of in the late summer of 2015.

BURR: And in that time frame, there were more than the DNC and the D triple C that were targets?

COMEY: Correct, a massive effort to target government and nongovernmental, near governmental agencies like nonprofits.

BURR: What would be the estimate of how many entities out there the Russians specifically targeted in that time frame?

COMEY: It’s hundreds. I suppose it could be more than 1,000, but it’s at least hundreds.

BURR: When did you become aware that data had been exfiltrated?

COMEY: I’m not sure exactly. I think either late ’15 or early ’16.

BURR: And did you, the director of the FBI, have conversations with the last administration about the risk that this posed?

COMEY: Yes.

BURR: And share with us, if you will, what actions they took.

COMEY: Well, the FBI had already undertaken an effort to notify all the victims, and that’s what we consider the entities attacked as part of this massive spear-phishing campaign so we notified them in an effort to disrupt what might be ongoing, and then there was a series of continuing interactions with entities through the rest of ’15 into ’16, and then throughout ’16, the administration was trying to decide how to respond to the intrusion activity that it saw.

BURR: And the FBI in this case, unlike other cases that you might investigate, did you ever have access to the actual hardware that was hacked, or did you have to rely on a third party to provide you the day that that they had collected?

COMEY: In the case of the DNC, and I believe the D triple C, but I’m sure the DNC, we did not have access to the devices themselves. We got relevant forensic information from a private party, a high class entity, that had done the work but we didn’t get direct access.

BURR: But no content.

COMEY: Correct.

BURR: Isn’t content an important part of the forensics from a counter-intelligence standpoint?

COMEY: It is but what was briefed to me by the people who were my folks at the time is that they had gotten the information from the private party that they needed to understand the intrusion by the spring of 2016.

BURR: Let me go back if I can very briefly to the decision to publicly go out with your results on the email. Was your decision influenced by the attorney general’s tarmac meeting with the former president, Bill Clinton?

COMEY: Yes. In ultimately conclusive way that was the thing that capped it for me, that I had to do something separately to protect the credibility of the investigation, which meant both the FBI and the justice department.

BURR: Were there other things that contributed to that, that you can describe in an open session?

COMEY: There were other things that contributed to that. One significant item I can’t but know the committee’s been briefed on, there’s been some public accounts of it which are nonsense but I understand the committee has been briefed on the classified facts. Probably the only other consideration that I guess I can talk about in open setting is that at one point the attorney general had directed me not to call it an investigation, but instead to call it a matter, which confused me and concerned me, but that was one of the bricks in the load that led me to conclude I have to step away from the department if we’re to close this case credibly.

BURR: Director, my last question, you’re not only a seasoned prosecutor. You’ve led the FBI for years. You understand the investigative process. You’ve worked with this committee closely, and we’re grateful to you, because I think we’ve mutually built trust in what your organization does, and what we do. Is there any doubt in your mind that this committee carry out its oversight role in the 2016 Russia involvement with the elections in parallel with the now special counsel set up?

COMEY: No, no doubt. It can be done. Requires lots of conversations but Bob Mueller is one of the this country’s great, great pros and I’m sure you’ll be able to work it out with him to run it in parallel.

BURR: Thank you. I turn it over to the vice chairman.

WARNER: Thank you, director Comey, again, for your service. Your comments to your FBI family, I know were heartfelt. Know that there are some in the administration who tried to smear your reputation. You had Acting Director McCabe in public testimony a few weeks back, and in public testimony yesterday reaffirm that the vast majority in FBI community had great trust in your leadership, and obviously trust in your integrity. I want to go through a number of the meetings that you referenced in your testimony, and let’s start with the January 6th meeting in Trump Tower, where you went up with a series of officials to brief the President-elect on the Russia investigation. My understanding is you remained afterwards to brief him, on again, “Some personally sensitive aspects of the information you relayed.” Now you said after that briefing you felt compelled to document that conversation that you actually started documenting it as soon as you got into the car.

Now you’ve had extensive experience at the department of justice and at the FBI. You’ve worked under presidents of both parties. What was about that meeting that led you to determine that you needed to start putting down a written record?

COMEY: A combination of things. I think the circumstances, the subject matter, and the person I was interacting with. Circumstances, first, I was alone with the president of the United States, or the president-elect, soon to be president. The subject matter I was talking about matters that touch on the FBI’s core responsibility, and that relate to the president, president-elect personally, and then the nature of the person. I was honestly concerned he might lie about the nature of our meeting so I thought it important to document. That combination of things I had never experienced before, but had led me to believe I got to write it down and write it down in a very detailed way.

WARNER: I think that’s a very important statement you just made. Then, unlike your dealings with presidents of either parties in your past experience, in every subsequent meeting or conversation with this president, you created a written record. Did you feel that you needed to create this written record of these memos, because they might need to be relied on at some future date?

COMEY: Sure. I created records after conversations that I think I did it after each of our nine conversations. If I didn’t, I did it for nearly all of them especially the ones that were substantive. I knew there might come a day when I would need a record of what had happened, not just to defend myself, but to defend the FBI and our integrity as an institution and the Independence of our investigative function. That’s what made this so difficult is it was a combination of circumstances, subject matter and the particular person.

WARNER: And so in all your experience, this was the only president that you felt like in every meeting you needed to document because at some point, using your words, he might put out a non-truthful representation of that meeting.

COMEY: That’s right, senator. As I said, as FBI director I interacted with President Obama, I spoke only twice in three years, and didn’t document it. When I was Deputy Attorney General I had a one one-on-one with President Bush been I sent an email to my staff but I didn’t feel with president bush the need to document it in that I way. Again, because of the combination of those factors, just wasn’t present with either President Bush or President Obama.

WARNER: I think that is very significant. I think others will probably question that. Now, the chairman and I have requested those memos. It is our hope that the FBI will get this committee access to those memos so again, we can read that contemporaneous rendition so that we’ve got your side of the story. Now I know members have said and press have said that a great deal has been made whether the president asked and indicated whether the president was the subject of any investigation, and my understanding is prior to your meeting on January 6th, you discussed with your leadership team whether you should be prepared to assure then President-elect Trump that the FBI was not investigating him personally. Now, I understand that your leadership team, agreed with that but was that a unanimous decision? Was there any debate about that?

COMEY: Wasn’t unanimous. One of the members of the leadership team had a view you that although it was technically true we did not have a counter-intelligence file case open on then President-elect Trump. His concern was because we’re looking at the potential, again, that’s the subject of the investigation, coordination between the campaign and Russia, because it was President Trump, President-elect Trump’s campaign, this person’s view was
inevitably his behavior, his conduct will fall within the scope of that work. And so he was reluctant to make the statement. I disagreed. I thought it was fair to say what was literally true. There was not a counterintelligence investigation of Mr. Trump, and I decided in the moment to say it, given the nature of our conversation.

WARNER: At that moment in time, did you ever revisit that as in the subsequent sessions?

COMEY: With the FBI leadership team? Sure. And the leader had that view that didn’t change. His view was still that it was probably although literally true, his concern was it could be misleading, because the nature of the investigation was such that it might well touch, obviously it would touch, the campaign, and the person that headed the campaign would be the candidate, and so that was his view throughout.

WARNER: Let me move to the January 27th dinner, where you said “The president began by asking me whether I wanted to stay on as FBI director.”

He also indicated that “lots of people” again your words, “Wanted the job.” You go on to say the dinner itself was “Seemingly an effort to” to quote have you ask him for your job and create some “patronage” relationship. The president seems from my reading of your memo to be holding your job or your possibility of continuing your job over your head in a fairly direct way. What was your impression, and what did you mean by this notion of a patronage relationship?

COMEY: Well, my impression, and again it’s my impression, I could always be wrong but my common sense told me what was going on is, either he had concluded or someone had told him that you didn’t, you’ve already asked Comey to stay, and you didn’t get anything for it. And that the dinner was an effort to build a relationship, in fact, he asked specifically, of loyalty in the context of asking me to stay. As I said, what was odd about that is we’d already talked twice about it by that point and he said I very much hope you’ll stay. In fact, I just remembered sitting a third, when you’ve seen the. IC tour of me walking across the blue room, and what the president whispered in my ear was “I really look forward to working with you.” So after those encounters —

WARNER: That was a few days before your firing.

COMEY: On the Sunday after the inauguration. The next Friday I have dinner and the president begins by wanting to talk about my job and so I’m sitting there thinking wait a minute three times we’ve already, you’ve already asked me to stay or talked about me staying. My common sense, again I could be wrong but my common sense told me what’s going on here is, he’s looking to get something in exchange for granting my request to stay in the job.

WARNER: Again, we ail understand, I was a governor, I had people work for me but this constant requests and again quoting you, him saying that he, despite you explaining your independence, he said “I need loyalty, I expect loyalty.” Have you ever had any of those kind of requests before from anyone else you’ve worked for in the government?

COMEY: No, and what made me uneasy at that point I’m the director of the FBI. The reason that Congress created a t10-year term is so that the director is not feeling as if they’re serving at, with political loyalty owed to any particular person. The statue of justice has a blindfolds on. You’re not supposed to peek out to see there your patron was please pleased with what you’re doing. That’s why I became FBI director to be in of that position. That’s why I was uneasy.

WARNER: February 14th, seems strange, you were in a meeting, and your direct superior the attorney general was in that meeting as well, yet the president asked everyone to leave, including the attorney general to leave, before he brought up the matter of general Flynn. What was your impression of that type of action? Have you ever seen anything like that before?

COMEY: No. My impression was something big is about to happen. I need to remember every single word that is spoken, and again, I could be wrong, I’m 56 years old, I’ve been, seen a few things, my sense was the attorney general knew he shouldn’t be leaving which was why he was leaving and I don’t know Kushner well but I think he picked up on the same thing so I knew something was about to happen that I needed to pay very close attention to.

WARNER: I found it very interesting that, that in the memo that you wrote after this February 14th pull-aside, you made clear that you wrote that memo in a way that was unclassified. If you affirmatively made the decision to write a memo that was unclassified, was that because you felt at some point, the facts of that meeting would have to come clean and come clear, and actually be able to be cleared in a way that could be shared with the American people?

COMEY: Well, I remember thinking, this is a very disturbing development, really important to our work. I need to document it and preserve it in a way, and this committee gets this but sometimes when things are classified, it tangled them up.

WARNER: Amen.

COMEY: It’s hard to share within an investigative team. You have to be careful how you handled it for good reason. If I write it such a way that doesn’t include anything of a classification, that would make it easier for to us discuss within the FBI and the government, and to hold onto it in a way that makes it accessible to us.

WARNER: Well again it’s our hope particularly since you are a pretty knowledgeable guy and wrote this in a way that it was unqualified this committee will get access that unclassified document. I this I it will be important to our investigation. Let me ask you this in closing. How many ongoing investigations at any time does the FBI have?

COMEY: Tens of thousands.

WARNER: Tens of thousands. Did the president ever ask about any other ongoing investigation?

COMEY: No.

WARNER: Did he ever ask about you trying to interfere on any other investigation?

COMEY: No.

WARNER: I think, again, this speaks volumes. This doesn’t even get to the questions around the phone calls about lifting the cloud. I know other members will get to that, but I really appreciate your testimony, and appreciate your service to our nation.

COMEY: Thank you, Senator Warner. I’m sitting here going through my contacts with him. I had one conversation with the president that was classified where he asked about our, an ongoing intelligence investigation, it was brief and entirely professional.

WARNER: He didn’t ask to you take any specific action?

COMEY: No.

WARNER: Unlike what we did vis-à-vis will Flynn and the Russia investigation?

COMEY: Correct.

WARNER: Thank you, sir.

BURR: Senator Risch?

SEN. JAMES RISCH: Thank you very much. Mr. Comey, thank you for your service. America needs more like you and we really appreciate it. Yesterday, I got and everybody got the seven pages of your direct testimony that is now a part of the record here. And the first — I read it, and then I read it again, and all I could think was number one, how much hated the class of legal writing when I was in law school, and you are the guy that probably got the A after reading this. I find it clear. I find it concise, and having been a prosecutor for a number of years and handling hundreds, maybe thousands of cases and read police reports, investigative reports, this is as good as it gets, and I really appreciate that. Not only the conciseness and the clearness of it, but also the fact that you have things that were written down contemporaneously when they happened, and you actually put them in quotes so we know exactly what happened and we’re not getting some rendition of it that’s in your mind.

COMEY: Thank you, sir.

RISCH: You’re to be complimented.

COMEY: I had great parents and great teachers who beat that into me.

RISCH: That’s obvious, sir. The chairman walked you through a number of things that the American people need to know and want to know. Number one, obviously, we all know about the active measures that the Russians have taken. I think a lot of people were surprised at this. Those of us that work in the intelligence community, it didn’t come as a surprise, but now the American people know this, and it’s good they know this, because this is serious and it’s a problem. I think secondly, I gather from all this that you’re willing to say now that, while you were director, the president of the United States was not under investigation. Is that a fair statement?

COMEY: That’s correct.

RISCH: All right, so that’s a fact that we are rely on?

COMEY: Yes, sir.

RISCH: I remember, you talked with us shortly after February 14th, when the “New York Times” wrote an article that suggested that the trump campaign was colluding with the Russians. Do you remember reading that article when it first came out?

COMEY: I do, it was about allegedly extensive electronic surveillance in their communications.

RISCH: Correct. That upset you to the point where you surveyed the intelligence community to see whether you were missing something in that. Is that correct?

COMEY: That’s correct. I want to be careful in open setting, but —

RISCH: I’m not going to go any further than that, so thank you. In addition to that, after that, you sought out both Republican and Democrat senators to tell them that, hey, I don’t know where this is coming from, but this is not the case. This is not factual. Do you recall that?

COMEY: Yes.

RISCH: Okay. So again, so the American people can understand this, that report by the New York Times was not true. Is that a fair statement?

COMEY: In the main, it was not true. And again, all of you know this. Maybe the American people don’t. The challenge, and I’m not picking on reporters about writing stories about classified information, is the people talking about it often don’t really know what’s going on, and going on are not talking about it. We don’t call the press to say, hey, you don’t that thing wrong about the sensitive topic. We have to leave it there.

I mentioned to the chairman the nonsense around what influenced me to make the July 5th statement. Nonsense. But I can’t go explaining how it is nonsense.

RISCH: Thank you. All right. So those three things we now know regarding the active measures, whether the president is under investigation and the collusion between the trump campaign and the Russians. I want to drill right down, as my time is limited, to the most recent dust up regarding allegations that the president of the United States obstructed justice. Boy, you nailed this down on page 5, paragraph 3. You put this in quotes. Words matter. You wrote down the words so we can all have the words in front of us now. There’s 28 words now in quotes. It says, quote, I hope — this is the president speaking — I hope you can see your way clear to letting this go, to letting Flynn go. He is good guy. I hope you can let this go. Now, those are his exact words, is that correct.

COMEY: Correct.

RISCH: You wrote them here and put them in quotes.

COMEY: Correct.

RISCH: Thank you for that. He did not direct you to let it go?

COMEY: Not in his words, no.

RISCH: He did not order you to let it go?

COMEY: Again, those words are not an order.

RISCH: He said, I hope. Now, like me, you probably did hundreds of cases, maybe thousands of cases, charging people with criminal offenses and, of course, you have knowledge of the thousands of cases out there where people have been charged. Do you know of any case where a person has been charged for obstruction of justice or, for that matter, any other criminal offense, where they said or thought they hoped for an outcome?

COMEY: I don’t know well enough to answer. The reason I keep saying his words is I took it as a direction.

RISCH: Right.

COMEY: I mean, this is a president of the United States with me alone saying I hope this. I took it as, this is what he wants me to do. I didn’t obey that, but that’s the way I took it.

RISCH: You may have taken it as a direction but that’s not what he said.

COMEY: Correct.

RISCH: He said, I hope.

COMEY: Those are his exact words, correct.

RISCH: You don’t know of anyone ever being charged for hoping something, is that a fair statement?

COMEY: I don’t as I sit here.

RISCH: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

BURR: Senator Feinstein?

SEN. DIANNE FEINSTEIN: Thanks very much, Mr. Chairman. Mr. Comey, I just want you to know that I have great respect for you. Senator Cornyn and I sit on the judiciary committee and we have the occasion to have you before us. You’re a man of strength and I regret the situations we all find ourselves in. I just want to say that. Let me begin with one overarching question. Why do you believe you were fired?

COMEY: I guess I don’t know for sure. I believe — I think the president, at his word, that I was fired because of the Russia investigation. Something about the way I was conducting it, the president felt created pressure on him that he wanted to relieve. Again, I didn’t know that at the time. I watched his interview. I read the press accounts of his conversations. I take him at his word there. Look, I could be wrong. Maybe he’s saying something that’s not true. I take him at his word, at least based on what I know now.

FEINSTEIN: Talk for a moment about his request that you pledge loyalty and your response to that and what impact you believe that had.

COMEY: I don’t know for sure because I don’t know the president well enough to read him well. I think it was — first of all, relationship didn’t get off to a great start, given the conversation I had to have on January 6th. This didn’t improve the relationship because it was very, very awkward. He was asking for something, and I was refusing to give it. Again, I don’t know him well enough to know how he reacted to that exactly.

FEINSTEIN: Do you believe the Russia investigation played a role?

COMEY: In why I was fired?

FEINSTEIN: Yes.

COMEY: Yes. I’ve seen the president say so.

FEINSTEIN: Let’s go to the Flynn issue. The senator outlined, “I hope you could see your way to letting Flynn go. He is a good guy. I hope you can let this go.” But you also said in your written remarks, and I quote, that you “had understood the president to be requesting that we drop any investigation of Flynn in connection with false statements about his conversations with the Russian ambassador in December,”. Please go into that with more detail.

COMEY: Well, the context and the president’s word are what led me to that conclusion. As I said in my statement, I could be wrong, but Flynn had been forced to resign the day before. And the controversy around general Flynn at that point in time was centered on whether he lied to the vice president about his nature of conversations with the Russians, whether he had been candid with others in the course of that. So that happens on the day before. On the 1, the president makes reference to that. I understood what he wanted me to do was drop any investigation connected to Flynn’s account of his conversations with the Russians.

FEINSTEIN: Now, here’s the question, you’re big. You’re strong. I know the oval office, and I know what happens to people when they walk in. There is a certain amount of intimidation. But why didn’t you stop and say, Mr. President, this is wrong. I cannot discuss this with you.

COMEY: It’s a great question. Maybe if I were stronger, I would have. I was so stunned by the conversation that I just took in. The only thing I could think to say, because I was playing in my mind — because I could remember every word he said — I was playing in my mind, what should my response be? That’s why I carefully chose the words. Look, I’ve seen the tweet about tapes. Lordy, I hope there are tapes. I remember saying, “I agree he is a good guy,” as a way of saying, I’m not agreeing with what you asked me to do. Again, maybe other people would be stronger in that circumstance. That’s how Ed myself. I hope I’ll never have another opportunity. Maybe if I did it again, I’d do it better.

FEINSTEIN: You describe two phone calls that you received from president trump. One on March 30th and one on April 11. He, quote, described the Russia investigation as a cloud that was impairing his ability, end quote, as president, and asked you, quote, to lift the cloud, end quote. How did you interpret that? What did you believe he wanted you to do?

COMEY: I interpreted that as he was frustrated that the Russia investigation was taking up so much time and energy. I think he meant of the executive branch, but in the public square in general. It was making it difficult for him to focus on other priorities of his. But what he asked me was actually narrowing than that. I think what he meant by the cloud — and, again, I could be wrong — but the entire investigation is taking up oxygen and making it hard for me to focus on what I want to focus on. The ask was to get it out that I, the president, am not personally under investigation.

FEINSTEIN: After April 11th, did he ask you more ever about the Russia investigation? Did he ask you any questions?

COMEY: We never spoke again after April 11th.

FEINSTEIN: You told the president, I would see what we could do. What did you mean?

COMEY: It was kind of a cowardly way of trying to avoid telling him, we’re not going to do that. That I would see what we could do. It was a way of kind of getting off the phone, frankly, and then I turned and handed it to the acting deputy attorney general.

FEINSTEIN: So I want to go into that. Who did you talk with about that, lifting the cloud, stop the investigation back at the FBI, and what was their response?

COMEY: The FBI, during one of the two conversations — I’m not remembering exactly — I think the first, my chief of staff was sitting in front of me and heard my end of the conversation because the president’s call was a surprise. I discussed the lifting the cloud and the request with the senior leadership team who, typically, and I think in all the circumstances, was the deputy director, my chief of staff, the general counsel, the deputy director’s chief counsel and, I think in a number of circumstances, the number three in the FBI and a few of the conversations included the head of the national security branch. The group of us that lead the FBI when it comes to national security.

FEINSTEIN: You have the president of the United States asking you to stop an investigation that is an important investigation. What was the response of your colleagues?

COMEY: I think they were as shocked and troubled by it as I was. Some said things that led me to believe that. I don’t remember exactly. But the reaction was similar to mine. They’re all experienced people who never experienced such a thing, so they were very concerned. Then the conversation turned to about, so what should we do with this information? That was a struggle for us. Because we are the leaders of the FBI, so it’s been reported to us, and I heard it and now shared it with the leaders of the FBI, our conversation was, should we share this with any senior officials at the justice department? Our primary concern was, we can’t infect the investigative team. We don’t want the agents and analysts working on this to know the president of the united States has asked, and when it comes from the president, I took it as a direction, to get rid of this investigation because we’re not going to follow that request. So we decided, we have to keep it away from our troops.

Is there anyone else we ought to tell at the justice department? We considered whether to tell — the attorney general said we believe rightly he was shortly going to recuse. There was no other senate confirmed leaders in the justice department at that point. The deputy attorney general was Mr. Boente, acting shortly in the seat. We decided the best move would be to hold it, keep it in a box, document it, as we’d already done, and this investigation is going to do on. Figure out what to do with it down the road. Is there a way to corroborate it? It was our word against the president’s. No way to corroborate this. My view of this changed when the prospect of tapes was raised. That’s how we thought about it then.

FEINSTEIN: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

SEN. MARCO RUBIO: Director Comey, the meeting in the oval office where he made the request about Mike Flynn, was that only time he asked you to hopefully let it go?

COMEY: Yes.

RUBIO: And in that meeting, as you understood it, he was asking not about the general Russia investigation, he was asking specifically about the jeopardy that Flynn was in himself?

COMEY: That’s how I understood it. Yes, sir.

RUBIO: As you perceived it, while he hoped you did away with it, you perceived it as an order, given the setting, the position and some of the circumstances?

COMEY: Yes.

RUBIO: At the time, did you say something to the president about, that is not an appropriate request, or did you tell the white house counsel, it’s not an appropriate request? Someone needs to tell the president he can’t do these things.

COMEY: I didn’t, no.

RUBIO: Why?

COMEY: I don’t know. I think — as I said earlier, I think the circumstances were such that it was — I was a bit stunned and didn’t have the presence of mind. I don’t know. I don’t want to make you sound like I’m captain courageous. I don’t know if I would have said to the president with the presence of mind, sir, that’s wrong. In the moment, it didn’t come to my mind. What came to my mind is be careful what you say. I said, I agree Flynn is a good guy.

RUBIO: On the cloud, we keep talking about this cloud, you perceive the cloud to be the Russian investigation in general?

COMEY: Yes, sir.

RUBIO: His specific ask was you’d tell the American people what you’d told him, told the leaders of Congress, Democrats and Republicans, he was not personally under investigation?

COMEY: Yes, sir.

RUBIO: What he was asking you to do, would you have done here today?

COMEY: Correct. Yes, sir.

RUBIO: Again, at that setting, did you say to the president, it would be inappropriate for you to do so and then talk to the White House counsel or somebody so hopefully they’d talked to him and tell him he couldn’t do this?

COMEY: First time I said, I’ll see what we can do. Second time, I explained how it should work, that the White House counsel should contact the deputy attorney general.

RUBIO: You told him that?

COMEY: The president said, okay. I think that’s what I’ll do.

RUBIO: To be clear, for you to make a public statement that he was not under investigation wouldn’t be illegal but you felt it could potentially create a duty to correct if circumstances changed?

COMEY: Yes, sir. We wrestled with it before my testimony, where I confirmed that there was an investigation. There were two primary concerns. One was it creates a duty to correct, which I’ve lived before, and you want to be very careful about doing that. And second, it is a slippery slope. If we say the president and the vice president aren’t under investigation. What is the principled investigation for stopping? So the leaderrship, at justice, acting attorney general Boente said, you’re not going to do that.

RUBIO: On March 30th during the phone call about general Flynn, you said he abruptly shifted and brought up something that you call, quote, unquote, the McCabe thing. Specifically, the Mccabe thing as you understood it was that Mccabe’s wife had received campaign money from what I assume means Terry McAuliffe?

COMEY: Yes.

RUBIO: Close to the Clintons. Did he say, I don’t like this guy because he got money from someone close to Clinton?

COMEY: He asked me about McCabe and said, how is he going to be with me as president? I was rough on him on the campaign trail.

RUBIO: Rough on Mccabe?

COMEY: By his own account, he said he was rough on McCabe and Mrs. McCabe on the campaign trail. How is he going to be? I shared with the president, Andy is a pro. No issue at all. You have to know people of the FBI. They’re not —

RUBIO: So the president turns to you and says, remember, I never brought up the McCabe thing because you said he was a good guy, did you perceive that to be a statement that, I took care of you. I didn’t do something because you told me he was a good guy. So I’m asking you potentially for something in return. Is that how you perceived it?

COMEY: I wasn’t sure what to make of it. That’s possible. It was so out of context I didn’t have a clear view of what it was.

RUBIO: On a number of occasions here, you bring up — let’s talk about the general Russia investigation, OK? Page 6 of your testimony you say, the first thing you say is, he asked what we could do to, quote, unquote, lift the cloud, the general Russia investigation, you responded, we are investigating the matter as quickly as we could and there would be great benefit if we didn’t find anything for having done the work well. He agreed. He emphasized the problems it was causing him. He agreed it’d be great to have an investigation, all the facts came out and we found nothing. He agreed that would be ideal, but this cloud is still messing up my ability to do the rest of my agenda. Is that an accurate assessment?

COMEY: Yes, sir. He went farther than that. He said, and if some of my satellites did something wrong, it’d be good to find that out.

RUBIO: That is the second part. The satellites, if one of my satellites, I imagine he meant some of the people surrounding his campaign, did something wrong, it’d be great to know that, as well.

COMEY: Yes, sir. That’s what he said.

RUBIO: Are those the only two instances in which that back and forth happened, where the president was basically saying, and I’m paraphrasing here, it’s okay. Do the Russia investigation. I hope it all comes out. I have nothing to do with anything Russia. It’d be great if it all came out, people around me were doing things that were wrong?

COMEY: Yes. As I recorded it accurately there. That was the sentiment he was expressing. Yes, sir.

RUBIO: What it comes down to is the president asked three things of you. Asked for your loyalty. You said you’d be loyally honest.

COMEY: Honestly loyal.

RUBIO: Honestly loyal. He asked you on one occasion to let the Mike Flynn thing go because he was a good guy. By the way, you’re aware he said the same thing in the press the next day. He is a good guy, treated unfairly, etc. I imagine your FBI agents read that.

COMEY: I’m sure they did.

RUBIO: The president’s wishes were known to them, certainly by the next day when he had a press conference with the prime minister. Going back, the three requests were, number one, be loyal. Number two, let the Mike Flynn thing go. He is a good guy, been treated unfairly. Number three, can you please tell the American people what these leaders in congress already know, which you already know and what you told me three times, that I’m not under personally under investigation.

COMEY: That’s right.

RUBIO: We learn more from the newspaper sometimes than the open hearings. Do you ever wonder why, of all the things in the investigation, the only thing never leaked is the fact the president was never personally under investigation, despite the fact that Democrats and Republicans and the leadership of congress have known that for weeks?

COMEY: I don’t know. I find matters that are briefed to the gang of eight are pretty tightly held, in my experience.

RUBIO: Finally, who are those senior leaders at the FBI you share these conversations with?

COMEY: As I said in response to Sen. Feinstein’s question, deputy director, my chief of staff, general counsel, deputy director’s chief counse and then, more often than not, the number three person at the FBI, the associate deputy director. And quite often, head of the national security branch.

BURR: Senator?

SEN. RON WYDEN: Mr. Comey, welcome. You and I have had significant policy differences over the years, particularly protecting Americans access to secure encryption. But I believe the timing of your firing stinks. Yesterday, you put on the record testimony that demonstrates why the odor of presidential abuse of power is so strong. Now, to my questions. In talking to senator Warner about this dinner that you had with the president, I believe January 27th, all in one dinner, the president raised your job prospects, he asked for your loyalty and denied allegations against him. All took place over one supper. Now, you told senator Warner that the president was looking to, quote, get something. Looking back, did that dinner suggest that your job might be contingent on how you handled the investigation?

COMEY: I don’t know that I’d go that far. I got the sense my job would be contingent upon how he felt I — excuse me — how he felt I conducted myself and whether I demonstrated loyalty. But I don’t know whether I’d go so far as to connect it to the investigation.

WYDEN: He said the president was trying to create some sort of patronage. Behaving in a manner consistent with the wishes of the boss?

COMEY: Yes. At least consider how what you’re doing will affect the boss as a significant consideration.

WYDEN: Let me turn to the attorney general. In your statement, you said that you and the FBI leadership team decided not to discuss the president’s actions with Attorney General Sessions, even though he had not recused himself. What was it about the attorney general’s interactions with the Russians or his behavior with regard to the investigation that would have led the entire leadership of the FBI to make this decision?

COMEY: Our judgment, as I recall, is that he was very close to and inevitably going to recuse himself for a variety of reasons. We also were aware of facts that I can’t discuss in an opening setting that would make his continued engagement in a Russia-related investigation problematic. So we were convinced — in fact, I think we’d already heard the career people were recommending that he recuse himself, that he was not going to be in contact with Russia-related matters much longer. That turned out to be the case.

WYDEN: How would you characterize Attorney General Sessions’s adherence to his recusal? In particular, with regard to his involvement in your firing, which the president has acknowledged was because of the Russian investigation.

COMEY: That’s a question I can’t answer. I think it is a reasonable question. If, as the president said, I was fired because of the Russia investigation, why was the attorney general involved in that chain? I don’t know. So I don’t have an answer for the question.

WYDEN: Your testimony was that the president’s request about Flynn could infect investigation. Had the president got what he wanted and what he asked of you, what would have been the effect on the investigation?

COMEY: We would have closed any investigation of general Flynn in connection with his statements and encounters — statements about encounters with Russians in the late part of December. We would have dropped an open criminal investigation.

WYDEN: So in effect, when you talk about infecting the enterprise, you would have dropped something major that would have spoken to the overall ability of the American people to get the facts?

COMEY: Correct. And as good as our people are, our judgment was, we don’t want them hearing that the president of the United States wants this to go away because it might have an effect on their ability to be fair, impartial and aggressive.

WYDEN: Acting Attorney General Yates found out Mike Flynn could be blackmailed by the Russians and went immediately to warn the white house. Flynn is gone, but other individuals with contacts with the Russians are still in extremely important positions of power. Should the American people have the same sense of urgency now with respect to them?

COMEY: I think all I can say, senator, is it’s a — the special counsel’s investigation is very important, understanding what efforts there were or are by Russian government to influence our government is a critical part of the FBI’s mission. And you’ve got the right person in Bob Mueller to lead it, it is a very important piece of work.

WYDEN: Vice president Pence was the head of the transition. To your knowledge, was he aware of the concerns about Michael Flynn prior to or during general Flynn’s tenure as national security adviser?

COMEY: I don’t — you’re asking including up to the time when Flynn was —

WYDEN: Right.

COMEY: Forced to resign? My understanding is that he was. I’m trying to remember where I get that understanding from. I think from acting attorney general Yates.

WYDEN: So former acting attorney general Yates testified concerns about general Flynn were discussed with the intelligence community. Would that have included anyone at the CIA or Dan Coats’ office, the DNI?

COMEY: I would assume, yes.

WYDEN: Michael Flynn resigned four days after attorney general sessions was sworn in. Do you know if the attorney general was aware of the concerns about Michael Flynn during that period?

COMEY: I don’t as I sit here. I don’t recall that he was. I could be wrong, but I don’t remember that he was.

WYDEN: Let’s see if you can give us some sense of who recommended your firing. Besides the letter from the attorney general, the deputy attorney general, do you have any information on who may have recommended or been involved in your firing?

COMEY: I don’t. I don’t.

WYDEN: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

BURR: Senator Collins?

SEN. SUSAN COLLINS: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Mr. Comey, let me begin by thanking you for your voluntary compliance with our request to appear before this committee and assist us in this very important investigation. I want first to ask you about your conversations with the president, three conversations in which you told him that he was not under investigation. The first was during your January 6th meeting, according to your testimony, in which it appears that you actually volunteered that assurance. Is that correct?

COMEY: That’s correct.

COLLINS: Did you limit that statement to counterintelligence invest — investigations, or were you talking about any FBI investigation?

COMEY: I didn’t use the term counterintelligence. I was briefing him about salacious and unverified material. It was in a context of that that he had a strong and defensive reaction about that not being true. My reading of it was it was important for me to assure him we were not person investigating him. So the context then was actually narrower, focused on what I just talked to him about. It was very important because it was, first, true, and second, I was worried very much about being in kind of a J. Hoover-type situation. I didn’t want him thinking I was briefing him on this to sort of hang it over him in some way. I was briefing him on it because, because we had been told by the media it was about to launch. We didn’t want to be keeping that from him. He needed to know this was being said. I was very keen not to leave him with an impression that the bureau was trying to do something to him. So that’s the context in which I said, sir, we’re not personally investigating you.

COLLINS: Then — and that’s why you volunteered the information?

COMEY: Yes, ma’am.

COLLINS: Then on the January 27th dinner, you told the president that he should be careful about asking you to investigate because, “you might create a narrative that we are investigating him personally, which we weren’t.” Again, were you limiting that statement to counterintelligence investigations, or more broadly, such as a criminal investigation?

COMEY: I didn’t modify the word investigation. It was, again, he was reacting strongly against the unverified material, saying I’m tempted to order you to investigate it. In the context of that, I said, sir, be careful about it. I might create a narrative we’re investigating you personally.

COLLINS: There was the March 30th phone call with the president in which you reminded him that congressional leaders had been briefed that we were no personally — the FBI was not personally investigating president trump. And, again, was that statement to congressional leaders and to the president limited to counterintelligence investigations, or was it a broader statement? I’m trying to understand whether there was any kind of investigation of the president underway.

COMEY: No. I’m sorry. If I misunderstood, I apologize. We briefed the congressional leadership about what Americans we had opened counterintelligence investigation cases on. We specifically said, the president is not one of those Americans. But there was no other investigation of the president that we were not mentioning at that time. The context was, counterintelligence, but I wasn’t trying to hide some criminal investigation of the president.

COLLINS: And was the president under investigation at the time of your dismissal on May 9th?

COMEY: No.

COLLINS: I’d like to now turn to the conversations with the president about Michael Flynn, which had been discussed at great length.

First, let me make very clear that the president never should have cleared the room and he never should have asked you, as you reported, to let it go, to let the investigation go. But I remain puzzled by your response. Michael Flynn is a good guy. You could have said, Mr. President, this meeting is inappropriate. This response could compromise the investigation. You should not be making such a request. It’s fundamental to the operation of our government, the FBI be insulated from this kind of political pressure. You talked a bit today about that you were stunned by the president making the request. But my question to you is later on, upon reflection, did you go to anyone at the department of justice and ask them to call the white house counsel’s office and explain that the president had to have a far better understanding and appreciation of his role vis-à-vis the FBI?

COMEY: In general, I did. I spoke to the attorney general and spoke to the new deputy attorney general, Mr. Rosenstein, when he took office and explained my serious concern about the way in which the president is interacting, especially with the FBI. As I said in my testimony, I told the attorney general, it can’t happen that you get kicked out of the room and the president talks to me. Why didn’t we raise the specific? It was of investigative interest to figure out, what just happened with the president’s request? I wouldn’t want to alert the white house it had happened until we figured out what we were going to do with it investigatively.

COLLINS: Your testimony was that you went to attorney general sessions and said, don’t ever leave me alone with him again. Are you saying that you also told him that he had made a request that you let it go with regard to part of the investigation of Michael Flynn?

COMEY: No. I specifically did not. I did not.

COLLINS: Okay. You mentioned that from your very first meeting with the president, you decided to write a memo memorializing the conversation. What was it about that very first meeting that made you write a memo when you have not done that with two previous presidents?

COMEY: As I said, a combination of things. A gut feeling is an important overlay, but the circumstances, that I was alone, the subject matter and the nature of the person I was interacting with and my read of that person. Yeah, and really just gut feel, laying on top of all of that, that this is going to be important to protect this organization, that I make records of this.

COLLINS: Finally, did you show copies of your memos to anyone outside of the department of justice?

COMEY: Yes.

COLLINS: And to whom did you show copies?

COMEY: I asked — the president tweeted on Friday after I got fired that I better hope there’s not tapes. I woke up in the middle of the night on Monday night because it didn’t dawn on me originally, that there might be corroboration for our conversation. There might a tape. My judgment was, I need to get that out into the public square. I asked a friend of mine to share the content of the memo with a reporter. Didn’t do it myself for a variety of reasons. I asked him to because I thought that might prompt the appointment of a special counsel. I asked a close friend to do it.

COLLINS: Was that Mr. Wittes?

COMEY: No.

COLLINS: Who was it?

COMEY: A close friend who is a professor at Columbia law school.

COLLINS: Thank you.

SEN. MARTIN HEINRICH: Mr. Comey, prior to January 27th of this year, have you ever had a one-on-one meeting or a private dinner with a president of the United States?

COMEY: No. Dinner, no. I had two one-on-ones with President Obama. One to talk about law enforcement issues, law enforcement and race, which was an important topic throughout for me and for the president. Then once very briefly for him to say goodbye.

HEINRICH: Were those brief interactions?

COMEY: No. The one about law enforcement and race and policing, we spoke for probably over an hour, just the two of us.

HEINRICH: How unusual is it to have a one-on-one dinner with the president? Did that strike you as odd?

COMEY: Yeah. So much so, I assumed there would be others, that he couldn’t possibly be having dinner with me alone.

HEINRICH: Do you have an impression that if you had found — if you had behaved differently in that dinner, and I am quite pleased that you did not, but if you had found a way to express some sort of expression of loyalty or given some suggestion that the Flynn criminal investigation might be pursued less vigorously, do you think you would have still been fired?

COMEY: I don’t know. It’s impossible to say looking back. I don’t know.

HEINRICH: But you felt like those two things were directly relevant to the kind of relationship that the president was seeking to establish with you?

COMEY: Sure, yes.

HEINRICH: The president has repeatedly talked about the Russian investigation into the U.S. — or Russia’s involvement in the U.S. Election cycle as a hoax and fake news. Can you talk a little bit about what you saw as FBI director and, obviously, only the parts that you can share in this setting that demonstrate how serious this action actually was and why there was an investigation in the first place?

COMEY: Yes, sir. There should be no fuzz on this whatsoever. The Russians interfered in our election during the 2016 cycle. They did with purpose. They did it with sophistication. They did it with overwhelming technical efforts. It was an active measures campaign driven from the top of that government. There is no fuzz on that. It is a high confidence judgment of the entire intelligence community and the members of this committee have seen the intelligence. It’s not a close call. That happened. That’s about as unfake as you can possibly get. It is very, very serious, which is why it’s so refreshing to see a bipartisan focus on that. This is about America, not about a particular party.

HEINRICH: That is a hostile act by the Russian government against this country?

COMEY: Yes, sir.

HEINRICH: Did the president in any of those interactions that you’ve shared with us today ask you what you should be doing or what our government should be doing or the intelligence community to protect America against Russian interference in our election system?

COMEY: I don’t recall a conversation like that.

HEINRICH: Never?

COMEY: No.

HEINRICH: Do you find it —

COMEY: Not with President Trump.

HEINRICH: Right.

COMEY: I attended a fair number of meetings on that with President Obama.

HEINRICH: Do you find it odd that the president seemed unconcerned by Russia’s actions in our election?

COMEY: I can’t answer that because I don’t know what other conversations he had with other advisers or other intelligence community leaders. I just don’t know sitting here.

HEINRICH: Did you have any interactions with the president that suggested he was taking that hostile action seriously.

COMEY: I don’t remember any interactions with the president other than the initial briefing on January the 6th. I don’t remember — could be wrong, but I don’t remember any conversations with him at all about that.

HEINRICH: As you’re very aware, it was only the two of you in the room for that dinner. You told us the president asked you to back off the Flynn investigation. The president told a reporter —

COMEY: Not in that dinner.

HEINRICH: Fair enough. Told the reporter he never did that. You’ve testified that the president asked for your loyalty in that dinner. White house denies that. A lot of this comes down to who should we believe. Do you want to say anything as to why we should believe you?

COMEY: My mother raised me not to say things like this about myself so I’m not going to. I think people should look at the whole body of my testimony. As I used to say to juries, when I talked about a witness, you can’t cherry pick it. You can’t say, I like these things he said but on this, he’s a ten liar. You have to take it together. I’ve tried to be open, fair, transparent and accurate. Of significant fact to me is so why did he kick everybody out of the Oval Office? Why would you kick the attorney general, the president, the chief of staff out to talk to me if it was about something else? So that, to me, as an investigator, is a significant fact.

HEINRICH: As we look at testimony or as communication from both of you, we should probably be looking for consistency?

COMEY: Well, in looking at any witness, you look at consistency, track record, demeanor, record over time, that sort of thing.

HEINRICH: Thank you. So there are reports that the incoming Trump administration, either during the transition and/or after the inauguration, attempted to set up a sort of backdoor communication channel with the Russian government using their infrastructure, their devices, their facilities. What would be the risks, particularly for a transition, someone not actually in the office of the president yet, to setting up unauthorized channels with a hostile foreign government, especially if they were to evade our own American intelligence services?

COMEY: I’m not going to comment on whether that happened in an open setting, but the risk is — primary risk is obvious. You spare the Russians the cost and effort to break into our communications channels by using theirs. You make it a whole lot easier for them to capture all of your conversations. Then to use those to the benefit of Russia against the united States.

HEINRICH: The memos that you wrote, you wrote — did you write all nine of them in a way that was designed to prevent them from needing classification?

COMEY: No. On a few of the occasions, I wrote — I sent emails to my chief of staff on some of the brief phone conversations I had. The first one was a classified briefing. Though it was in a conference room at Trump Tower, it was a classified briefing. I wrote that on a classified device. The one I started typing in the car, that was a classified laptop I started working on.

HEINRICH: Any reason in a classified environment, in a skiff, that this committee, it would not be appropriate to see those communications at least from your perspective as the author?

COMEY: No.

HEINRICH: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

BURR: Senator?

SEN. ROY BLUNT: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Mr. Comey, when you were terminated at the FBI, I said, and still continue to feel, that you have provided years of great service to the country. I also said that I’d had significant questions over the last year about some of the decisions that you made. If the president hadn’t terminated your service, would you still be, in your opinion, the director of the FBI today?

COMEY: Yes, sir.

BLUNT: So you took as a direction from the president something you thought was serious and troublesome but continued to show up for work the next day?

COMEY: Yes, sir.

BLUNT: Six weeks later were still telling the president on March the 30th that he was not personally the target of any investigation?

COMEY: Correct. On March the 30th, and I think again on April 11th, as well, I told him we’re not investigating him personally. That was true.

BLUNT: The point to me, the concern to me there is, all these things are going on. You now in retrospect, or at least to this committee, you had serious concerns about what the president had, you believed, directed you to do, and had taken no action. Hadn’t even reported up the chain of command, assuming you believe there is a chain of command, that these things happened. Do you have a sense looking back that that was a mistake?

COMEY: No. In fact, I think no action was the most important thing I could do.

BLUNT: On the Flynn issue specifically, I believe you said earlier that you believe the president was suggesting you drop any investigation of Flynn’s account of his conversation with the Russian ambassador. Which was essentially misleading the vice president and others?

COMEY: Correct. I’m not going to go into the details but whether there were false statements made to government investigators, as well.

BLUNT: Any suggestion that the — General Flynn had violated the Logan Act, I always find incredible. The Logan Act has been on the books over 200 years. Nobody has ever been prosecuted for violating the Logan Act. My sense would be that the discussion, not the problem, misleading investigators or the vice president might have been?

COMEY: That’s fair. Yes, sir.

BLUNT: Had you previously on February 14th discussed with the president in the previous meeting anything your investigators had learned or their impressions from talking to Flynn?

COMEY: No, sir.

BLUNT: So he said he’s a good guy. You said he is a good guy. That was — no further action taken on that?

COMEY: He said more than that, but there was no — the action was, I wrote it up, briefed our senior team, tried to figure out what to do with it and made a decision. We’re going to hold this and see what we make of it down the road.

BLUNT: Did it mean you had no responsibility to report that to the Justice Department in some way?

COMEY: I think at some point, and I don’t know what Director Mueller is going to do with it, but at some point, I was sure we were going to brief it to the team in charge of the case. But our judgment was in the short term, doesn’t make sense to — no fuzz on the fact I reported to the attorney general. That’s why I stressed he shouldn’t be kicked out of the room. Didn’t make sense to report to him now.

BLUNT: You said the attorney general said, I don’t want to be in the room with him alone again, but you continued to talk to him on the phone. What is the difference in being in the room alone with him and talking to him on the phone alone?

COMEY: I think what I stressed to the attorney general was broader than just the room. I said, I report to you. It is very important you be between me and the white house.

BLUNT: After that discussion with the attorney general, did you take phone calls from the president?

COMEY: Yes, sir.

BLUNT: Why did you just say you need to — why didn’t you say, I’m not taking that call. Talk to the attorney general?

COMEY: I did on the April 11th call. I reported the calls — the March 30th call and the April 11th call to my superior, who was the acting deputy attorney general.

BLUNT: I don’t want to run out of time here. In reading your testimony, January the 3rd, January the 27th and March the 30th, it appears to me on all three of those occasions, you unsolicited by the president, made the point to him he was not a target of an investigation?

COMEY: Correct. Yes, sir.

BLUNT: One, I thought the March 30th, very interesting, you said, well, even though you don’t want — you may not want — that was 27th, where he said, why don’t you look into that more? You said, you may not want that because we couldn’t say with — we couldn’t answer the question about you being a target of the investigation. You didn’t seem to be answering that question anyhow. Senator Rubio pointed out the one unanswered, unleaked question seems to have been that. In this whole period of time. You said something earlier and I don’t want to fail to follow up on, you said after dismissed, you gave information to a friend so that friend could get that information into the public media.

COMEY: Correct.

BLUNT: What kind of information was that? What kind of information did you give to a friend?

COMEY: That the — the Flynn conversation. The president had asked me to let the Flynn — forgetting my exact own words. But the conversation in the Oval Office.

BLUNT: So you didn’t consider your memo or your sense of that conversation to be a government document. You considered it to be, somehow, your own personal document that you could share to the media as you wanted through a friend?

COMEY: Correct. I understood this to be my recollection recorded of my conversation with the president. As a private citizen, I thought it important to get it out.

BLUNT: Were all your memos that you recorded on classified or other memos that might be yours as a private citizen?

COMEY: I’m not following the question.

BLUNT: You said you used classified —

COMEY: Not the classified documents. Unclassified. I don’t have any of them anymore. I gave them to the special counsel. My view was that the content of those unclassified, memorialization of those conversations was my recollection recorded.

BLUNT: So why didn’t you give those to somebody yourself rather than give them through a third party?

COMEY:Because I was weary the media was camping at the end of my driveway at that point. I was actually going out of town with my wife to hide. I worried it would be feeding seagulls at the beach. If it was I who gave it to the media. I asked my friend, make sure this gets out.

BLUNT: It does seem to me what you do there is create a source close to the former director of the FBI as opposed to taking responsibility yourself for saying, here are the records. Like everybody else, I have other things I’d like to get into but I’m out of time.

SEN. ANGUS KING: First, I’d like to acknowledge Senator Blumenthal and Senator Nelson. The principal thing you’ll learn is the chairs there are more uncomfortable than the chairs here. But welcome to the hearing. Mr. Comey, a broad question. Was the Russian activity in the 2016 election a one off proposition, or is this part of a long-term strategy? Will they be back?

COMEY: Oh, it is a long-term practice of theirs. It’s stepped up a notch in a significant way in ’16. They’ll be back.

KING: I think that’s very important for the American people to understand. That this is very much a forward looking investigation in terms of how do we understand what they did and how do we prevent it. Would you agree that is a big part of our role here?

COMEY: Yes, sir. It is not a Republican thing or a democratic thing. It really is an American thing. They’re going to come for whatever party they choose to try and work on behalf of, and they’re not devoted to either, in my experience. They’re just about their own advantage. They will be back.

KING: That’s my observation. I don’t think Putin is a Republican or a Democrat. He’s an opportunist.

COMEY: I think that’s a fair statement.

KING: With regard to the — several of these conversations, in his interview with Lester Holt on NBC, the president said, I had dinner with him. He wanted to have dinner because he wanted to stay on. Is this an accurate statement?

COMEY: No, sir.

KING: Did you in any way initiate that dinner?

COMEY: No. He called me at my desk at lunchtime and asked me, was I free for dinner that night. Called himself. Said, can you come over for dinner tonight? I said, yes, sir. He said, will 6:00 work? I think 6:00 first. Then he said, I was going to invite your whole family but we’ll do it next time. Is that a good time? I said, sir, whatever works for you. He said, how about 6:30? I said, whatever works for you, sir. Then I hung up and had to call my wife and break a date with her. I was supposed to take her to dinner that night.

KING: One of the all-time great excuses for breaking a date.

COMEY: Yeah. In retrospect, I love spending time with my wife and I wish I would have been there that night.

KING: That’s one question I’m not going to follow up on, Mr. Comey. In that same interview, the president said, in one case I called him and in one case, he call me. Is that an accurate statement?

COMEY: No.

KING: Did you ever call the president?

COMEY: No. I might — the only reason I’m hesitating is, I think there was at least one conversation where I was asked to call the White House switchboard to be connected to him. I never initiated a communication with the president.

KING: In his press conference May 18th, the president responded, quote, no, no, when asked about asking you to stop the investigation into general Flynn. Is that a true statement?

COMEY: I don’t believe it is.

KING: In regard to him being personally under investigation, does that mean that the dossier is not being reviewed or investigated or followed up on in any way?

COMEY: I obviously can’t comment either way. I talk in an open setting about the investigation as it was when I was head of the FBI. It is Bob Mueller’s responsibility now. I don’t know.

KING: Clearly, your statements to the president back on the various times when you assured him it wasn’t under investigation, as of that moment, is it correct?

COMEY: Correct.

KING: Now, on the Flynn investigation, is it not true that Mr. Flynn was and is a central figure in this entire investigation of the relationship between the Trump campaign and the Russians?

COMEY: I can’t answer that in an open setting, sir.

KING: Certainly, Mr. Flynn was part of the so-called Russian investigation? Can you answer that question?

COMEY: I have to give you the same answer.

KING: All right. We’ll be having a closed session shortly so we’ll follow up on that. In terms of his comments to you about — I think in response to Senator Risch, he said, I hope you’ll hold back on that, but when you get a — when a president of the United States in the Oval Office says something like, I hope or I suggest or would you, do you take that as a directive?

COMEY: Yes. It rings in my ear as, well, will no one rid me of this meddlesome priest.

KING: I was just going to quote that, in 1179, December 27th, Henry II said, who will rid me of the meddlesome priest, and the next day, he was killed. Exactly the same situation. We’re thinking along the same lines. Several other questions, and these are a little more detailed. What do you know about the Russian bank VEB?

COMEY: Nothing that I can talk about in an open setting. I know —

KING: That takes care of the next three questions.

COMEY: I know it exists.

KING: What is relationship of ambassador — the ambassador from Russia to the United States to the Russian intelligence infrastructure?

COMEY: He’s a diplomat who is the chief of mission at the Russian Embassy, which employs a robust cohort of intelligence officers. So, surely, he is whiting of their aggressive intelligence operations, at least some of it in the United States. I don’t consider him to be an intelligence officer himself. He’s a diplomat.

KING: Did you ever — did the FBI ever brief the Trump administration about the advisability of interacting directly with Ambassador Kislyak?

COMEY: All I can say sits here is there are a variety of defensive briefings given to the incoming administration about the counterintelligence risk.

KING: Back to Mr. Flynn. Would the — would closing out the Flynn investigation have impeded the overall Russian investigation?

COMEY: No. Well, unlikely, except to the extent — there is always a possibility if you have a criminal case against someone and squeeze them, flip them and they give you information about something else. But I saw the two as touching each other but separate.

KING: With regard to your memos, isn’t it true that in a court case when you’re weighing evidence, contemporaneous memos and contemporaneous statements to third parties are considered probative in terms of the validity of testimony?

COMEY: Yes.

KING: Thank you. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

BURR: Senator Lankford?

LANKFORD: Former Director Comey, good to see you again.

COMEY: You, too.

LANKFORD: Multiple opportunities to visit, as everyone here has. I appreciate you and your service and what you have done for the nation for a long time, what you continue to do. I told you before in the heat of last year, when we had an opportunity to visit personally, that I pray for you and your family because you carry a tremendous amount of stress. That is still true today.

COMEY: Thank you.

LANKFORD: Let me walk through a couple things with you. Your notes are obviously exceptionally important because they give a rapid account of what you wrote down and what you perceived happened in those different meetings. Have you had the opportunity to reference those notes when you were preparing the written statement you put forward today?

COMEY: Yes. I think nearly all of my written recordings of my conversations, I had a chance to review them before filing my statement.

LANKFORD: Do you have a copy of any of the notes personally?

COMEY: I don’t. I turned them over to Bob Mueller’s investigators.

LANKFORD: The individual that you told about your memos, that then were sent on to The New York Times, did you have a copy of the memos or told orally?

COMEY: Had a copy at the time.

LANKFORD: Do they still have a copy of those memos?

COMEY: Good question. I think so. I guess I can’t say for sure sitting here, but — I guess I don’t know. But I think so.

LANKFORD: So the question is, could you ask them to hand that copyright back to you so you can hand them over to this committee?

COMEY: Potentially.

LANKFORD: I would like to move that from potentially to seeing if we can ask that question so we can have a copy of those. Obviously, the notes are really important to us, so we can continue to get to the facts as we see it. The written documents are exceptionally important.

COMEY: Yeah.

LANKFORD: Were there other documents we need to be aware of you used in your preparation for your written statement we should also have that would assist us in helping us with this?

COMEY: Not that I’m aware of, no.

LANKFORD: Past the February 14th meeting, which is an important meeting as we discuss the conversations here about Michael Flynn, when the president asked you about he hopes that you would let this go, and the conversation back and forth about being a good guy, after that time, did the president ever bring up anything about Michael Flynn again to you? Had multiple other conversations you had documents with the president.

COMEY: I don’t remember him bringing it up again.

LANKFORD: Did a member of the white house staff come up to you asking you to drop the Michael Flynn case, anything referring to that?

COMEY: No.

LANKFORD: Did the Director of National Intelligence talk to you about that?

COMEY: No.

LANKFORD: Did anyone from the attorney general’s office, the department of justice ask about that?

COMEY: No.

LANKFORD: Did the head of NSA talk to you about that?

COMEY: No.

LANKFORD: The key aspect here is if this seems to be something the president is trying to get you to drop it, it seems like a light touch to drop it, to bring it up at that point, the day after he had just fired Flynn, to come back here and say, I hope we can let this go, then it never reappears again. Did it slow down your investigation or any investigation that may or may not be occurring with Michael Flynn?

COMEY: No. Although I don’t know there are any manifestations between February 14th and when I was fired. I don’t know that the president had any way of knowing whether it was effective or not.

LANKFORD: Okay. Fair enough. If the president wanted to stop an investigation, how would he do that? Knowing it is an ongoing criminal investigation or counterintelligence investigation, would that be a matter of going to you, you perceive, and say, you make it stop because he doesn’t have the authority to stop it? How would the president make an ongoing investigation stop?

COMEY: I’m not a legal scholar, but as a legal matter, the president is the head of the executive branch and could direct, in theory, we have important norms against this, but could anyone be investigative or not. I think he has the legal authority. All of us ultimately report in the executive branch to the president.

LANKFORD: Would that be to you, or the attorney general or who?

COMEY: I suppose he could if he wanted to issue a direct order could do it anyway. Through the attorney general or issue it directly to me.

LANKFORD: Well, is there any question that the president is not real fond of this investigation? I can think of multiple 140-word character expressions that he’s publicly expressed he’s not fond of the investigation. I heard you refer to before trying to keep the agents away from any comment that the president may have made. Quite frankly, the president has informed around 6 billion people that he’s not real fond of this investigation. Do you think there’s a difference in that?

COMEY: Yes. There’s a big difference in kicking superior officers out of the oval office, looking the FBI director in the eye and saying I hope you let this go. I think if agents as good as they are heard the president of the United States did that, there’s a real risk of a chilling effect on their work. That’s why we kept it so tight.

LANKFORD: OK. You had mentioned before about some news stories and news accounts. Without having to go into all of the names and specific times and to be able to dip into all of that. Have there been news accounts about the Russian investigation or collusion about the whole event or as you read the story you were wrong about how wrong they got the facts?

COMEY: Yes, there have been many, many stories based on — well, lots of stuff but about Russia that are dead wrong.

LANKFORD: I was interested in your comment that you made as well that the president said to you if there were some satellite associates of his that did something wrong, it would be good to find that out. Did the president seem to talk to you specifically on March 30th saying I’m frustrated that the word is not getting out that I’m under investigation. But if there are people in my circle that are, let’s finish the investigation, is that how you took it?

COMEY: Yes, sir. Yes.

LANKFORD: Then you made a comment earlier a the attorney general, the previous attorney general asking you about the investigation on the Clinton e-mails saying you were asked to not call it an investigation anymore. But call it a matter. You said that confused you. You can give us additional details on that?

COMEY: Well, it concerned me because we were at the point where we refused to confirm the existence as we typically do of an investigation for months. And was getting to a place where that looked silly because the campaigns we’re talking about interacting with the FBI in the course of our work. The Clinton campaign at the time was using all kinds of euphemisms, security matters, things like that for what was going on. We were getting to a place where the attorney general and I were both going to testify and talk publicly about it I wanted to know was she going to authorize us to confirm we have an investigation. She said yes, don’t call it that, call it a matter. I said why would I do that? She said, just call it a matter. You look back in hindsight, if I looked back and said this isn’t worth dying on so I just said the press is going to completely ignore it. That’s what happened when I said we opened a matter. They all reported the FBI has an investigation open. So that concerned me because that language tracked the way the campaign was talking about the FBI’s work and that’s concerning.

LANKFORD: You gave impression that the campaign was somehow using the language as the FBI because you were handed the campaign language?

COMEY: I don’t know whether it was intentional or not but it gave the impression that the attorney general was looking to align the way we talked about our work with the way it was describing that. It was inaccurate. We had an investigation open for the Federal Bureau of Investigation, we had an investigation open at the time. That gave me a queasy feeling.

BURR: Senator Manchin.

SEN. JOE MANCHIN: Thank you. I appreciate being here. West Virginia is interested in the hear we’re having today. I’ve had over 600 requests for questions to ask you from my fellow West Virginians. Most of them have been asked and there are some to be asked if the classified hearing. I want to thank you first of all for coming to be here and volunteering to stay in the classified hearing. I don’t know if you had a chance to watch our hearing yesterday —

COMEY: I watched part of it, yes.

MANCHIN: And it was quite troubling. My colleagues had very pointed questions they wanted answers to. And they weren’t classified and could have been answered in the open setting and they refused to. So that makes us much more appreciative of your cooperation. Sir, the seriousness of the Russia investigation and knowing that it can be ongoing as Senator Keegan alluded to. What are your concerns there? American public saying why are we making a big deal of this Russian investigation? Can you tell me about your thoughts?

COMEY: Yes, sir.

MANCHIN: Finally, did the president ever show any concern or interest or curiosity about what the Russians were doing?

COMEY: Thank you, senator. As I said earlier, I don’t remember any conversations with the president about the Russia election interference.

MANCHIN: Did he ever ask you any questions concerning this?

COMEY: Well, there was an initial briefing of our findings. And I think there was conversation there I don’t remember exactly where he asked what I found and what our sources were and what our confidence level was. The reason this is such a big deal. We have this big messy wonderful country where we fight with each other all the time. But nobody tells us what to think, what to fight about, what to vote for except other Americans. And that’s wonderful and often painful. But we’re talking about a foreign government that using technical intrusion, lots of other methods tried to shape the way we think, we vote, we act. That is a big deal. And people need to recognize it. It’s not about Republicans or Democrats. They’re coming after America, which I hope we all love equally. They want to undermine our credibility in the face the world. They think that this great experiment of ours is a threat to them. So they’re going to try to run it down and dirty it up as much as possible. That’s what this is about and they will be back. Because we remain — as difficult as we can be with each other, we remain that shining city on the hill. And they don’t like it.

MANCHIN: It’s extremely important, extremely dangerous what we’re dealing with and it’s needed is what you’re saying.

COMEY: Yes, sir.

MANCHIN: Do you believe there were any tapes or recordings of your conversations with the president?

COMEY: It never occurred to me until the president’s tweet. I’m not being facetious. I hope there are.

MANCHIN: Both of you are in the same here, you both hope there are taping and recordings?

COMEY: Well all I can do is hope. The president surely knows if he taped me. If he did, my feelings aren’t hurt. Release all of the tapes I’m good with you.

MANCHIN: Sir, do you believe that Robert Mueller, our new special versus, on Russia, will be thorough and complete without intervention and would you about confident on his recommendations?

COMEY: Yes, Bob Mueller is one of the finest people and public servants this country has ever produced. He will do it well. He’s a dogged-tough person and you can have high confidence when he’s done, he’s turned over all of the rocks.

MANCHIN: You’ve been asked a wide variety of questions and we’re going to have more in our classified hearing. Something else I like to ask folks when they come here, what details of the saga should we be focused on and recommend that we do differently? To adjust our perspective on this.

COMEY: I don’t know. One of the reasons I’m pleased to be here I think this committee has shown the American people although we have two parties and we disagree on things we can work together when it comes to the country. So I would hope that you would just keep doing what you’re doing. And it’s a good example for kids. That it’s good in and of itself but we are an adult democracy.

MANCHIN: You mentioned six times on the phone with president did you ever allude that you were performing inadequately? —

COMEY: No, quite the contrary. I was about to get on a helicopter one time. The head of the DEA was in the helicopter waiting for me. He called in to check in and tell me I was doing an awesome job. And wanted to see how I was doing. I said I’m doing fine, sir. Then I finished the call and got on the helicopter.

MANCHIN: Mr. Comey, do you believe you would have been fired if Hillary Clinton became president?

COMEY: That’s a great question. I don’t know. I don’t know.

MANCHIN: Have you had any thoughts about it?

COMEY: I might have been. I don’t know. Look, I’ve said before, that was an extraordinarily difficult and painful time. I think I did what I had to do. I knew it was going to be very bad for me personally. And the consequences might have been if Hillary Clinton was elected I might have been terminated. I don’t know. I really don’t.

MANCHIN: My final question, after the February 14th meeting in the oval office you mentioned to Attorney General Jeff Sessions. Did you ever consider why Attorney General Sessions was not asked to stay in the room?

COMEY: Oh, sure. I did. And have. And in that moment, I knew —

MANCHIN: Did you ever talk to him about it?

COMEY: No.

MANCHIN: You never had a discussion with Jeff sessions on this?

COMEY: No, not at all.

MANCHIN: On any of your meetings?

COMEY: No.

MANCHIN: Did he inquire? Did he show any inquiry whatsoever what was that meeting about?

COMEY: No — you’re right. I did say to him. I’d forgotten this, I talked to him and said you have to be between me and the president and that’s incredibly important. I forgot my exact words I passed along my the president’s message about the leaks. I passed that along to the attorney general I think it was the next morning in the meeting. But I did not tell him about the Flynn part.

MANCHIN: Do you believe this rises to obstruction of justice?

COMEY: I don’t know, that’s Bob Mueller’s job to sort that out. .

MANCHIN: Thank you, sir.

SEN. TOM COTTON: Mr. Chairman.

BURR: Senator Cotton.

COTTON: Mr. Comey, you’re encouraged.president will release the tapes will you encourage Mr. Mueller to release your memos?

COMEY: Sure.

COTTON: You said you did not record your conversations with President Obama or President Bush in memos. Did you do so with Attorney General Jeff Sessions or any other senior member of the trump Department of Justice?

COMEY: No. I think — I am sorry.

COTTON: Did you record conversations or memos with the attorney general or any other senior member of the Obama administration?

COMEY: No.

COTTON: Two phone calls, four phone calls are not discussed in your statement, for the record. What happens in those phone calls?

COMEY: The president called me I believe shortly before he was inaugurated as a follow-up to our conversation, private conversation on January the 6th. He just wanted to reiterate his rejection of that allegation and talk about—- he’d thought about it more. And why he thought it wasn’t true. The verified — unverified parts. And during that call, he asked me again, hope you’re going to say. You’re doing a great job. I told him that I intended to. There was another phone call that I mentioned could have the date wrong, March 1st, where he called just to check in with me as I was about to get on the hospital. It was a secure call we had about an operational matter that is not related to any of this. Something that the FBI is working on. He wanted to make sure I understood how important he thought it was. A totally appropriate call. And then the fourth call, probably forgetting — may have been — I may have met the call when he called to invite me to dinner. I’ll think about it as I’m answering other questions but I think I got that right.

COTTON: Let’s turn our attention to the underlying activity at issue here. Russia’s hacking of those e-mails and the allegation of collusion. Do you think Donald Trump colluded with Russia?

COMEY: That’s a question I don’t think I should answer in an opening setting. As I said, when I left, we did not have an investigation focused on president trump. But that’s a question that will be answered by the investigation, I think.

COTTON: Let me turn to a couple statements by one of my colleagues, Senator Feinstein. She was the ranking member on this committee until January, which means that she had access to information that only she and Chairman Burr did. She’s now the senior Democrat on the FBI Committee, which means she had access to information that many of us don’t. On May 3rd on the Wolf Blitzer show she was asked “Do you believe you have evidence that in fact that there was collusion between Trump associates and Russia during the campaign? She answered not at this time. On May 18th, on the same show, Mr. Blitzer said, “The last time you came on this show I I asked if you had seen any evidence that Russia had colluded with the Trump campaign.” You said not at this time. Has anything changed since we last spoke? Senator Feinstein said no, it hasn’t. Do you have any reason to doubt those statements?

COMEY: I don’t doubt that the Senator Feinstein understood what she said. I just don’t want to go down that route anymore because I’m — I want to be fair to President Trump.I am not trying to suggest something nefarious but I don’t want to get into the business of not to this person, not to that person.

COTTON: On February 14th the New York Times published the story, the headline of which was “Trump campaign aides had repeated contacts with Russian intelligence.” You were asked if that as an inaccurate story. Would it be fair to characterize that story as almost entirely wrong?

COMEY: Yes.

COTON: Do you have — at the time the story was published, any indication of any contact between Trump people and Russians, intelligence officers, other government officials or close associates of the Russian government?

COMEY: That’s one I can’t answer sitting here.

COTTON: We can discuss that in the classified setting then. I want to turn your attention now to Mr. Flynn. The allegations of his underlying conduct to be specific. His alleged interactions with the Russian ambassador on the telephone and then what he said to senior Trump administration officials and Department of Justice officials. I understand there are other issues with Mr. Flynn related to his receipt of foreign monies or disclosure ever official advocacy, those are serious allegations that I’m sure will be pursued but I want to speak specifically about his interactions with the Russian ambassador. There’s a story on January 23rd in The Washington Post that says, entitled “FBI reviewed calls with Russian ambassador but found nothing illicit.” Is this story accurate?

COMEY: I don’t want to comment ton that senator. I’m pretty sure the bureau has not confirmed any interception of communications. So, I don’t want to talk about that in an opening setting.

COTTON: Would it be improper for an incoming national security advisor to have a conversation with a foreign ambassador?

COMEY: In my experience, no.

COTTON: But you can’t confirm or deny that the conversation happened and we would need to know the contents of that conversation to know if it in fact was proper.

COMEY: I don’t think I can talk about that opening setting. Again, I’ve been out of government a month. So, I also don’t want to talk about things when it’s now somebody else’s responsibility. But maybe in the classified setting we can talk more about that.

COTTON: You stated earlier that there was an open investigation of Mr. Flynn and the FBI. Did you or any FBI agent ever sense that Mr. Flynn attempted to deceive you or make false states to an FBI agent?

COMEY: I don’t want to go too far. That was the subject of the criminal inquiry.

COTTON: Did you ever come close to closing the investigation on Mr. Flynn?

COMEY: I don’t think I can talk about that in open setting either.

COTTON: We can discuss these more in the closed setting then. Mr. Comey, in 2004, you were a part of a well-publicized event about an intelligence program that had been recertified several times. And you were acting attorney general when Attorney General John Ashcroft was incapacitated due to illness. There was a dramatic showdown at the hospital here. The next day you said you that wrote the letter of resignation, signed it, went to meet with President Bush and explained why you produced to certify it is that accurate?

COMEY: Yes.

COTTON: At anytime during FBI director did you ever write and sign a letter of resignation?

COMEY: Letter of resignation? No, sir.

COTTON: Despite all of off that testified to today you didn’t feel this rose to a level of honest difference of opinion between accomplished and skilled lawyers in that 2004 episode.

COMEY: I wouldn’t characterize the events in 2004 that way but to answer, no, I didn’t find, encounter any circumstance that led me intend to resign, consider to resign. No, sir.

COTTON: Thank you.

BURR: Senator Harris.

SEN. KAMALA HARRIS: Director Comey, I want to thank you you are now a private citizen and you’re enduring a Senate Intelligence Committee hearing. Each of us gets seven minutes instead of five to ask you questions, thank you.

COMEY: I’m between opportunities now so —

HARRIS: You are — I’m sure you’ll have future opportunities. You and I are both former prosecutors. I’m not going to require to you answer. I just want to make a statement that in my experience of prosecuting cases when a robber held a gun to somebody’s head and said I hope you will give me your wallet, the word hope was not the operative word at that moment. But you don’t have to respond to that point. I have a series of questions to ask you. And they’re going to start with: Are you aware of any meetings between the trump administration officials and Russia officials during the campaign that have not been acknowledged by those officials in the White House?

COMEY: That’s not — even if I remembered clearly, that’s not a question I can answer in open setting.

HARRIS: Are you aware of any questions by Trump campaign officials or associates of the campaign to hide their communications with Russia officials through encrypted means?

COMEY: I have to give you the same answer.

HARRIS: In the course of the FBI’s investigation did you ever come across anything that suggested that communication, records, documents or other evidence had been destroyed?

COMEY: I think a got to give you the aim answer is because it would touch on investigative matters.

HARRIS: And are you a wear of any potential efforts to conceal between campaign officials and Russian officials?

COMEY: I have to give you the aim answer is.

HARRIS: Thank you. As a former attorney general, I have a series of questions in connection with your connection with the attorney general while you were FBI director. What is your understanding of the parameters of Attorney General Sessions’ recusal from the Russia investigation?

COMEY: I think it’s described in a written release from DOJ which I don’t remember sitting here but the gist is he will be recused from all matters relating to Russia or the campaign. Or the activities of Russia and the ’16 election or something like that.

HARRIS: So, is your knowledge of the extent of the recusal based on the public statements he’s made?

COMEY: Correct.

HARRIS: Is there any kind of memorandum issued from the attorney general to the FBI outlining the parameters of his recusal?

COMEY: Not that I’m aware of.

HARRIS: Do you know if he reviewed any DOJ documents before he was recused?

COMEY: I don’t know.

HARRIS: And after he was recused. I’m assuming same answer?

COMEY: Same answer.

HARRIS: And aside from any notice or memorandum that was not sent or was what process would be to make sure that the attorney general would not have any connection to the investigation torsion your knowledge?

COMEY: I don’t know for sure. I know he had consulted with career ethics officials that know how to run a recusal at DOJ. But I don’t know what mechanism they set up.

HARRIS: And the attorney general recused himself from the investigation, do you believe it was appropriate for him to be involved in the firing of the chief investigator of that case that had Russia interference?

COMEY: It’s something that I can’t answer sitting here. It’s a reasonable question. It would depend on a lot of things I don’t know, like did he know, what was he told, did he realize the investigation, things like that. I just don’t know the answer.

HARRIS: You mentioned in your testimony that the president essentially asked you for a loyalty pledge. Are you aware of him making the same request of any other member the cabinet?

COMEY: I don’t know one way or another. I’ve never heard anything about it.

HARRIS: You mentioned you had the conversation where he hoped that you would let the Flynn matter go on February 14. Or thereabouts. It’s my understanding that Mr. Sessions was recused from any involvement in the investigation, about a full two weeks later. To your knowledge, was the attorney general, did he have access to information about the investigation in those two weeks?

COMEY: In theory, sure. Because he’s the attorney general. I don’t know whether he had any contact with materials related to that.

HARRIS: To your knowledge was there any directive that he should not have any contact with any information about the Russian investigation between the February 14th date and the day he was ultimately recused himself on March 2nd.

COMEY: Not to my knowledge. I don’t know one way or another.

HARRIS: And did you speak to the attorney general about the Russia investigation about his recusal?

COMEY: I don’t think so, no.

HARRIS: Do you know if anyone in the department, in the FBI, forwarded any documents or information on memos of any sort, to the attention of the attorney general before his recusal?

COMEY: I don’t know of any or remember any signaturing here. It’s possible.

HARRIS: Do you know if the attorney general was involved, in fact, involved in any aspect of the Russia investigation after the 2nd of March?

COMEY: I don’t. I would assume not. Let me say this way, I don’t know of any information that would lead me to believe he did something to touch the Russia investigation after recusal.

HARRIS: In your written testimony, you indicate that after you were left alone with the president, you mentioned that it was inappropriate and should never happen again to the attorney general. And apparently, he did not reply. And you wrote that he did not reply. What did he do, if anything? Did he just look at you? Was there a pause for a moment, what happened?

COMEY: I don’t remember real clearly. I have a recollection of him just kind of looking at me. It was a danger I’m projecting on to him so this might be a faulty memory. But I kind of got — his body language gave me a sense like what am I going to do.

HARRIS: Did he shrug?

COMEY: I don’t remember clearly. I think the reason I have that impression is I have some recollection of almost imperceptible like what am I going to do. But I don’t have a clear recollection of that of that. He didn’t say anything.

HARRIS: On that same February 14th meeting you said you understood the president to be requesting that you drop the investigation. After that meeting, however, you received two calls from the president March 30th and April 11th, where the president talked about cloud over his presidency. Has anything you’ve learned in the months since your February 14 meeting changed your understanding of the president’s request — ¶I guess that would be what he said in public documents or public interviews?

COMEY: Correct.

HARRIS: And is there anything about this investigation that you believe is in any way biased or, or is not being informed by a process of seeking the truth?

COMEY: No. The appointment of a special counsel should offer great — especially given who that person is, great comfort to Americans. No matter what your political affiliation is, that this will be done independently, confidently and honestly.

HARRIS: And do you believe he should have full authority, Mr. Mueller, to be able to pursue that investigation?

COMEY: Yes. And knowing him well, over the years, if there’s something that he thinks he needs, he will speak up about it.

HARRIS: Do you believe he should have full independence?

COMEY: Oh, yeah. And he wouldn’t be part of if he wasn’t going to get full Independence.

HARRIS: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

CORNYN: Mr. Comey I’ll repeat what I said in previous hearings that I believe you’re a good and decent man who has been dealt with a difficult hand starting back with the Clinton e-mail investigation. I appreciate you being here voluntarily to cooperation with the investigation. As a general matter, if an FBI agent has reason to believe that a crime has been committed, do they have a duty to report it?

COMEY: That’s a good question. I don’t know that there’s a legal duty to report it. They certainly have a cultural, ethical duty to report it.

CORNYN: You’re unsure whether they would have a legal duty?

COMEY: That’s a good question. I have not thought about that before. There’s a statute that prohibits the felony, knowing a felony and taking steps to conceal it but that’s a different question. Let me be clear, I would expect any FBI agent who has information about a crime to report it.

CORNYN: Me, too.

COMEY: But where you rest that obligation, I don’t know. It exists.

CORNYN: And let me suggest as a general proposition, if you’re trying to make an investigation go away, is firing an FBI director a good way to make that happen? By that, I mean —

COMEY: It doesn’t make a lot of sense to me but I obviously am hopelessly biased given I was the one fired.

CORNYN: I understand it’s personal.

COMEY: Given the nature of the FBI, I meant what I said. For all the indispensable people in the world, including the FBI, there’s lots of bad things for me not being at the FBI, most of them for me, but the work is going to go on.

CORNYN: Nothing that you testified to as to today, has impeded the investigation of the FBI or director Mueller’s ability to get to the bottom of this?

COMEY: Correct. Especially, Director Mueller is a critical part of that equation.

CORNYN: Let me take you back to the Clinton e-mail investigation. I think you’ve been tanked agency a hero or a villain, depending on whose political ox is being gored at many different times during the court of the Clinton e-mail investigation, and even now perhaps.

But you clearly were troubled by the conduct of the sitting Attorney General Loretta Lynch when it came to the Clinton e-mail investigation. You mentioned the characterization that you’d been asked to accept. That this was a matter. And not a criminal investigation. Which you said it was. There was the matter of President Clinton’s meeting on the tarmac. With the sitting attorney general at the time when his wife was a subject to a criminal investigation. And you suggested that perhaps there are other matters that you may be able to share with us later on in a classified setting. But it seems to me that you clearly believe that Loretta Lynch, the attorney general, had an appearance of a conflict of interest on the Clinton e-mail investigation. Is that correct?

COMEY: That’s fair. I didn’t believe she could credibly decline that investigation. At least not without grievous damage to the Department of Justice and to the FBI.

CORNYN: And under Department of Justice and FBI norms, wouldn’t it have been appropriate for the attorney general, or if she had recused herself which she did not do for the deputy attorney general to appoint a special counsel. That’s essentially what’s happened with director Mueller. Would that have been an appropriate step?

COMEY: Certainly, yes, sir.

CORNYN: And were you aware Ms. Lynch had been requested numerous times to appoint a special counsel and had refused.

COMEY: Yes. From, I think, Congress had — members of congress had repeatedly asked, yes, sir.

CORNYN: Yours truly did on multiple occasions. And that heightened your concerns about the appearance of a conflict of interest with the Department of Justice which caused you to make what you have described as an incorrectly painful decision to basically take the matter up yourself and led to that July press conference?

COMEY: Yes, sir. I ask — after President Clinton, former President Clinton met on the plane with the attorney general, I considered whether I should call for the appointment of a special counsel. And decided that would be an unfair thing to do because I knew there was no case there. We investigated it very, very thoroughly. I know this is a subject of passionate disagreement but I knew there was no case there. And calling for the appointment of special counsel would be brutally unfair because it would send the message, uh-huh, there’s something here. That’s my judgment. Lots of people have different views about it but that’s what I thought about it.

CORNYN: Well if a special counsel had been appointed they could have made that determination there was nothing there and declined to pursue it, right?

COMEY: Sure. But it would have been many months later or a year later.

CORNYN: Let me just you ask to — given the experience of the Clinton e-mail investigation and what happened there. Do you think it’s unreasonable for anyone, any president, who has been assured on multiple occasions that he’s not the subject of an FBI investigation, do you think it’s unreasonable for them to want the FBI director to publicly announce that, so that this cloud over his administration would be removed?

COMEY: I think that’s a reasonable point of view. The concern would be, obviously, because as that boomerang comes back it’s going to be a very big deal because there will be a duty to correct.

CORNYN: Well, we saw that in the Clinton e-mail investigation.

COMEY: Yes, I recall that.

CORNYN: I know you do. So, let me ask you, finally, in the minute we have left. There was this conversation back and forth about loyalty. And I think we all appreciate the fact that an FBI director is an unique public official in the sense he’s not — he’s a political appointee in one sense. But he has a duty of independence to pursue the law pursuant to the Constitution and laws of the United States. And so when the president asked you about loyalty, you got in this back and forth about, well, I’ll pledge you my honesty. Then it looks like from what I’ve read you agreed upon honest loyalty. Is that the characterization?

COMEY: Yes.

CORNYN: Thank you very much.

COMEY: Yes, sir.

Full Text Political Transcripts June 7, 2017: Former FBI Director James Comey’s Opening Statement to Senate Intelligence Committee about President Donald Trump

POLITICAL TRANSCRIPTS

TRUMP PRESIDENCY & 115TH CONGRESS:

James Comey’s prepared testimony

Source: Senate Intelligence Committee, 6-7-17

Statement for the Record

Senate Select Committee on Intelligence
James B. Comey
June 8, 2017
Chairman Burr, Ranking Member Warner, Members of the Committee.
Thank you for inviting me to appear before you today. I was asked to testify today to describe for you my interactions with President-Elect and President Trump on subjects that I understand are of interest to you. I have not included every detail from my conversations with the President, but, to the best of my recollection, I have tried to include information that may be relevant to the Committee.
January 6 Briefing
I first met then-President-Elect Trump on Friday, January 6 in a conference room at Trump Tower in New York. I was there with other Intelligence Community (IC) leaders to brief him and his new national security team on the findings of an IC assessment concerning Russian efforts to interfere in the election. At the conclusion of that briefing,
I remained alone with the President Elect to brief him on some personally sensitive aspects of the information assembled during the assessment.
The IC leadership thought it important, for a variety of reasons, to alert the incoming President to the existence of this material, even though it was salacious and unverified. Among those reasons were: (1) we knew the media was about to publicly report the material and we believed the IC should not keep knowledge of the material and its imminent release from the President-Elect; and (2) to the extent there was some effort to compromise an incoming President, we could blunt any such effort with a defensive briefing.
The Director of National Intelligence asked that I personally do this portion of the briefing because I was staying in my position and because the material implicated the FBI’s counter-intelligence responsibilities. We also agreed I would do it alone to minimize potential embarrassment to the President-Elect. Although we agreed it made sense for me to do the briefing, the FBI’s leadership and I were concerned that the briefing might create a situation where a new President came into office uncertain about whether the FBI was conducting a counter-intelligence investigation of his personal conduct.
It is important to understand that FBI counter-intelligence investigations are different than the more-commonly known criminal investigative work. The Bureau’s goal in a counter-intelligence investigation is to understand the technical and human methods that hostile foreign powers are using to influence the United States or to steal our secrets. The FBI uses that understanding to disrupt those efforts. Sometimes disruption takes the form of alerting a person who is targeted for recruitment or influence by the foreign power. Sometimes it involves hardening a computer system that is being attacked. Sometimes it involves “turning” the recruited person into a double-agent, or publicly calling out the behavior with sanctions or expulsions of embassy-based intelligence officers. On occasion, criminal prosecution is used to disrupt intelligence activities.
Because the nature of the hostile foreign nation is well known, counterintelligence investigations tend to be centered on individuals the FBI suspects to be witting or unwitting agents of that foreign power. When the FBI develops reason to believe an American has been targeted for recruitment by a foreign power or is covertly acting as an agent of the foreign power, the FBI will “open an investigation” on that American and use legal authorities to try to learn more about the nature of any relationship with the foreign power so it can be disrupted.
In that context, prior to the January 6 meeting, I discussed with the FBI’s leadership team whether I should be prepared to assure President-Elect Trump that we were not investigating him personally. That was true; we did not have an open counter-intelligence case on him. We agreed I should do so if circumstances warranted. During our one-on-one meeting at Trump Tower, based on President Elect Trump’s reaction to the briefing and without him directly asking the Intelligence chiefs won’t say if Trump asked them to downplay Russia probe question, I offered that assurance.
I felt compelled to document my first conversation with the President-Elect in a memo. To ensure accuracy, I began to type it on a laptop in an FBI vehicle outside Trump Tower the moment I walked out of the meeting. Creating written records immediately after one-on-one conversations with Mr. Trump was my practice from that point forward. This had not been my practice in the past. I spoke alone with President Obama twice in person (and never on the phone) — once in 2015 to discuss law enforcement policy issues and a second time, briefly, for him to say goodbye in late 2016. In neither of those circumstances did I memorialize the discussions. I can recall nine one-on-one conversations with President Trump in four months — three in person and six on the phone.
January 27 Dinner
The President and I had dinner on Friday, January 27 at 6:30 pm in the Green Room at the White House. He had called me at lunchtime that day and invited me to dinner that night, saying he was going to invite my whole family, but decided to have just me this time, with the whole family coming the next time. It was unclear from the conversation who else would be at the dinner, although I assumed there would be others.
It turned out to be just the two of us, seated at a small oval table in the center of the Green Room. Two Navy stewards waited on us, only entering the room to serve food and drinks.
The President began by asking me whether I wanted to stay on as FBI Director, which I found strange because he had already told me twice in earlier conversations that he hoped I would stay, and I had assured him that I intended to. He said that lots of people wanted my job and, given the abuse I had taken during the previous year, he would understand if I wanted to walk away.
Comey’s opening statement posted online 05:00
My instincts told me that the one-on-one setting, and the pretense that this was our first discussion about my position, meant the dinner was, at least in part, an effort to have me ask for my job and create some sort of patronage relationship. That concerned me greatly, given the FBI’s traditionally independent status in the executive branch.
I replied that I loved my work and intended to stay and serve out my ten-year term as Director. And then, because the set-up made me uneasy, I added that I was not “reliable” in the way politicians use that word, but he could always count on me to tell him the truth. I added that I was not on anybody’s side politically and could not be counted on in the traditional political sense, a stance I said was in his best interest as the President.
A few moments later, the President said, “I need loyalty, I expect loyalty.” I didn’t move, speak, or change my facial expression in any way during the awkward silence that followed. We simply looked at each other in silence. The conversation then moved on, but he returned to the subject near the end of our dinner. At one point, I explained why it was so important that the FBI and the Department of Justice be independent of the White House. I said it was a paradox: Throughout history, some Presidents have decided that because “problems” come from Justice, they should try to hold the Department close. But blurring those boundaries ultimately makes the problems worse by undermining public trust in the institutions and their work.
Near the end of our dinner, the President returned to the subject of my job, saying he was very glad I wanted to stay, adding that he had heard great things about me from Jim Mattis, Jeff Sessions, and many others. He then said, “I need loyalty.” I replied, “You will always get honesty from me.” He paused and then said, “That’s what I want, honest loyalty.” I paused, and then said, “You will get that from me.” As I wrote in the memo I created immediately after the dinner, it is possible we understood the phrase “honest loyalty” differently, but I decided it wouldn’t be productive to push it further. The term — honest loyalty — had helped end a very awkward conversation and my explanations had made clear what he should expect.
During the dinner, the President returned to the salacious material I had briefed him about on January 6, and, as he had done previously, expressed his disgust for the allegations and strongly denied them. He said he was considering ordering me to investigate the alleged incident to prove it didn’t happen. I replied that he should give that careful thought because it might create a narrative that we were investigating him personally, which we weren’t, and because it was very difficult to prove a negative. He said he would think about it and asked me to think about it.
As was my practice for conversations with President Trump, I wrote a detailed memo about the dinner immediately afterwards and shared it with the senior leadership team of the FBI.
February 14 Oval Office Meeting
On February 14, I went to the Oval Office for a scheduled counterterrorism briefing of the President. He sat behind the desk and a group of us sat in a semi-circle of about six chairs facing him on the other side of the desk. The Vice President, Deputy Director of the CIA, Director of the National CounterTerrorism Center, Secretary of Homeland Security, the Attorney General, and I were in the semi-circle of chairs. I was directly facing the President, sitting between the Deputy CIA Director and the Director of NCTC. There were quite a few others in the room, sitting behind us on couches and chairs.
The President signaled the end of the briefing by thanking the group and telling them all that he wanted to speak to me alone. I stayed in my chair. As the participants started to leave the Oval Office, the Attorney General lingered by my chair, but the President thanked him and said he wanted to speak only with me. The last person to leave was Jared Kushner, who also stood by my chair and exchanged pleasantries with me. The President then excused him, saying he wanted to speak with me.
How James Comey is preparing for this moment 02:30
When the door by the grandfather clock closed, and we were alone, the President began by saying, “I want to talk about Mike Flynn.” Flynn had resigned the previous day. The President began by saying Flynn hadn’t done anything wrong in speaking with the Russians, but he had to let him go because he had misled the Vice President. He added that he had other concerns about Flynn, which he did not then specify.
The President then made a long series of comments about the problem with leaks of classified information — a concern I shared and still share. After he had spoken for a few minutes about leaks, Reince Priebus leaned in through the door by the grandfather clock and I could see a group of people waiting behind him. The President waved at him to close the door, saying he would be done shortly. The door closed.
The President then returned to the topic of Mike Flynn, saying, “He is a good guy and has been through a lot.” He repeated that Flynn hadn’t done anything wrong on his calls with the Russians, but had misled the Vice President. He then said, “I hope you can see your way clear to letting this go, to letting Flynn go. He is a good guy. I hope you can let this go.” I replied only that “he is a good guy.” (In fact, I had a positive experience dealing with Mike Flynn when he was a colleague as Director of the Defense Intelligence Agency at the beginning of my term at FBI.) I did not say I would “let this go.”
The President returned briefly to the problem of leaks. I then got up and left out the door by the grandfather clock, making my way through the large group of people waiting there, including Mr. Priebus and the Vice President.
I immediately prepared an unclassified memo of the conversation about Flynn and discussed the matter with FBI senior leadership. I had understood the President to be requesting that we drop any investigation of Flynn in connection with false statements about his conversations with the Russian ambassador in December. I did not understand the President to be talking about the broader investigation into Russia or possible links to his campaign. I could be wrong, but I took him to be focusing on what had just happened with Flynn’s departure and the controversy around his account of his phone calls. Regardless, it was very concerning, given the FBI’s role as an independent investigative agency.
The FBI leadership team agreed with me that it was important not to infect the investigative team with the President’s request, which we did not intend to abide. We also concluded that, given that it was a one-on-one conversation, there was nothing available to corroborate my account. We concluded it made little sense to report it to Attorney General Sessions, who we expected would likely recuse himself from involvement in Russia-related investigations. (He did so two weeks later.) The Deputy Attorney General’s role was then filled in an acting capacity by a United States Attorney, who would also not be long in the role. After discussing the matter, we decided to keep it very closely held, resolving to figure out what to do with it down the road as our investigation progressed. The investigation moved ahead at full speed, with none of the investigative team members — or the Department of Justice lawyers supporting them — aware of the President’s request.
Shortly afterwards, I spoke with Attorney General Sessions in person to pass along the President’s concerns about leaks. I took the opportunity to implore the Attorney General to prevent any future direct communication between the President and me. I told the AG that what had just happened — him being asked to leave while the FBI Director, who reports to the AG, remained behind — was inappropriate and should never happen. He did not reply. For the reasons discussed above, I did not mention that the President broached the FBI’s potential investigation of General Flynn.
March 30 Phone Call
On the morning of March 30, the President called me at the FBI. He described the Russia investigation as “a cloud” that was impairing his ability to act on behalf of the country. He said he had nothing to do with Russia, had not been involved with hookers in Russia, and had always assumed he was being recorded when in Russia. He asked what we could do to “lift the cloud.” I responded that we were investigating the matter as quickly as we could, and that there would be great benefit, if we didn’t find anything, to our having done the work well. He agreed, but then re-emphasized the problems this was causing him.
Then the President asked why there had been a congressional hearing about Russia the previous week — at which I had, as the Department of Justice directed, confirmed the investigation into possible coordination between Russia and the Trump campaign. I explained the demands from the leadership of both parties in Congress for more information, and that Senator Grassley had even held up the confirmation of the Deputy Attorney General until we briefed him in detail on the investigation. I explained that we had briefed the leadership of Congress on exactly which individuals we were investigating and that we had told those Congressional leaders that we were not personally investigating President Trump. I reminded him I had previously told him that. He repeatedly told me, “We need to get that fact out.” (I did not tell the President that the FBI and the Department of Justice had been reluctant to make public statements that we did not have an open case on President Trump for a number of reasons, most importantly because it would create a duty to correct, should that change.)
The President went on to say that if there were some “satellite” associates of his who did something wrong, it would be good to find that out, but that he hadn’t done anything wrong and hoped I would find a way to get it out that we weren’t investigating him.
In an abrupt shift, he turned the conversation to FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe, saying he hadn’t brought up “the McCabe thing” because I had said McCabe was honorable, although McAuliffe was close to the Clintons and had given him (I think he meant Deputy Director McCabe’s wife) campaign money. Although I didn’t understand why the President was bringing this up, I repeated that Mr. McCabe was an honorable person.
He finished by stressing “the cloud” that was interfering with his ability to make deals for the country and said he hoped I could find a way to get out that he wasn’t being investigated. I told him I would see what we could do, and that we would do our investigative work well and as quickly as we could.
Immediately after that conversation, I called Acting Deputy Attorney General Dana Boente (AG Sessions had by then recused himself on all Russia-related matters), to report the substance of the call from the President, and said I would await his guidance. I did not hear back from him before the President called me again two weeks later.
April 11 Phone Call
On the morning of April 11, the President called me and asked what I had done about his request that I “get out” that he is not personally under investigation. I replied that I had passed his request to the Acting Deputy Attorney General, but I had not heard back. He replied that “the cloud” was getting in the way of his ability to do his job. He said that perhaps he would have his people reach out to the Acting Deputy Attorney General. I said that was the way his request should be handled. I said the White House Counsel should contact the leadership of DOJ to make the request, which was the traditional channel.
He said he would do that and added, “Because I have been very loyal to you, very loyal; we had that thing you know.” I did not reply or ask him what he meant by “that thing.” I said only that the way to handle it was to have the White
House Counsel call the Acting Deputy Attorney General. He said that was what he would do and the call ended.
That was the last time I spoke with President Trump.
###

Full Text Political Transcripts June 7, 2017: President Donald Trump Announces Intent to Nominate Christopher A. Wray to be Director of the FBI

POLITICAL TRANSCRIPTS

TRUMP PRESIDENCY & 115TH CONGRESS:

President Donald Trump Announces Intent to Nominate Christopher A. Wray to be Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation

Source: WH, 6-7-17

Today, President Donald J. Trump announced his intent to nominate Christopher A. Wray for the position of Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). Mr. Wray is currently a partner at King & Spalding, an international law firm.

Mr. Wray has been recognized throughout his career as a leader in the field of white-collar criminal defense and government investigations. As Assistant Attorney General in charge of the Criminal Division at the Department of Justice from 2003 to 2005, Mr. Wray helped address the surge of corporate fraud scandals that plagued our financial markets. Upon his departure from the Department, Mr. Wray received the Edmund J. Randolph Award, the Department’s highest honor for public service and leadership. Mr. Wray graduated cum laude from Yale University in 1989 and received his law degree from Yale Law School in 1992.

“I am proud to announce Christopher as my choice as the Director of the FBI. During his previous service at the Department of Justice, Christopher was the leader of major fraud investigations, and was a key part of the team overseeing the Justice Department’s actions in the war on terrorism following the 9/11 attacks,” said President Trump. “He is an impeccably qualified individual, and I know that he will again serve his country as a fierce guardian of the law and model of integrity once the Senate confirms him to lead the FBI.

“It is a great honor to be selected by the President to return to the Department of Justice as Director of the FBI,” said Mr. Wray. “I look forward to serving the American people with integrity as the leader of what I know firsthand to be an extraordinary group of men and women who have dedicated their careers to protecting this country.”

Full Text Political Transcripts June 1, 2017: President Donald Trump Announces Withdrawal from Paris Climate Accord

POLITICAL TRANSCRIPTS

TRUMP PRESIDENCY & 115TH CONGRESS:

Remarks by the Vice President Introducing President Trump’s Statement on the Paris Accord

Source: WH, 6-1-17

The Rose Garden
3:29 P.M. EDT

THE VICE PRESIDENT:  Good afternoon.  Secretary Mnuchin, Secretary Ross, EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt, members of Congress, distinguished guests, on behalf of the First Family, welcome to the White House.  (Applause.)

It’s the greatest privilege of my life to serve as Vice President to a President who is fighting every day to make America great again.

Since the first day of this administration, President Donald Trump has been working tirelessly to keep the promises that he made to the American people.  President Trump has been reforming healthcare, enforcing our laws, ending illegal immigration, rebuilding our military.  And this President has been rolling back excessive regulations and unfair trade practices that were stifling American jobs.

Thanks to President Trump’s leadership, American businesses are growing again; investing in America again; and they’re creating jobs in this country instead of shipping jobs overseas.  Thanks to President Donald Trump, America is back.  (Applause.)

And just last week we all witnessed the bold leadership of an American President on the world stage, putting America first.  From the Middle East, to Europe, as leader of the free world, President Trump reaffirmed historic alliances, forged new relationships, and called on the wider world to confront the threat of terrorism in new and renewed ways.

And by the action, the President will announce today, the American people and the wider world will see once again our President is choosing to put American jobs and American consumers first.  Our President is choosing to put American energy and American industry first.  And by his action today, President Donald Trump is choosing to put the forgotten men and women of America first.

So with gratitude for his leadership — (applause) — and admiration for his unwavering commitment to the American people, it is now my high honor and distinct privilege to introduce to all of you, the President of the United States of America, President Donald Trump.  (Applause.)

END
3:31 P.M. EDT

Statement by President Trump on the Paris Climate Accord

Rose Garden

3:32 P.M. EDT

THE PRESIDENT:  Thank you very much.  (Applause.)  Thank you.  I would like to begin by addressing the terrorist attack in Manila.  We’re closely monitoring the situation, and I will continue to give updates if anything happens during this period of time.  But it is really very sad as to what’s going on throughout the world with terror.  Our thoughts and our prayers are with all of those affected.

Before we discuss the Paris Accord, I’d like to begin with an update on our tremendous — absolutely tremendous — economic progress since Election Day on November 8th.  The economy is starting to come back, and very, very rapidly.  We’ve added $3.3 trillion in stock market value to our economy, and more than a million private sector jobs.

I have just returned from a trip overseas where we concluded nearly $350 billion of military and economic development for the United States, creating hundreds of thousands of jobs.  It was a very, very successful trip, believe me.  (Applause.)  Thank you.  Thank you.

In my meetings at the G7, we have taken historic steps to demand fair and reciprocal trade that gives Americans a level playing field against other nations.  We’re also working very hard for peace in the Middle East, and perhaps even peace between the Israelis and the Palestinians.  Our attacks on terrorism are greatly stepped up — and you see that, you see it all over — from the previous administration, including getting many other countries to make major contributions to the fight against terror.  Big, big contributions are being made by countries that weren’t doing so much in the form of contribution.

One by one, we are keeping the promises I made to the American people during my campaign for President –- whether it’s cutting job-killing regulations; appointing and confirming a tremendous Supreme Court justice; putting in place tough new ethics rules; achieving a record reduction in illegal immigration on our southern border; or bringing jobs, plants, and factories back into the United States at numbers which no one until this point thought even possible.  And believe me, we’ve just begun.  The fruits of our labor will be seen very shortly even more so.

On these issues and so many more, we’re following through on our commitments.  And I don’t want anything to get in our way.  I am fighting every day for the great people of this country.  Therefore, in order to fulfill my solemn duty to protect America and its citizens, the United States will withdraw from the Paris Climate Accord — (applause) — thank you, thank you — but begin negotiations to reenter either the Paris Accord or a really entirely new transaction on terms that are fair to the United States, its businesses, its workers, its people, its taxpayers.  So we’re getting out.  But we will start to negotiate, and we will see if we can make a deal that’s fair.  And if we can, that’s great.  And if we can’t, that’s fine.  (Applause.)

As President, I can put no other consideration before the wellbeing of American citizens.  The Paris Climate Accord is simply the latest example of Washington entering into an agreement that disadvantages the United States to the exclusive benefit of other countries, leaving American workers — who I love — and taxpayers to absorb the cost in terms of lost jobs, lower wages, shuttered factories, and vastly diminished economic production.

Thus, as of today, the United States will cease all implementation of the non-binding Paris Accord and the draconian financial and economic burdens the agreement imposes on our country.  This includes ending the implementation of the nationally determined contribution and, very importantly, the Green Climate Fund which is costing the United States a vast fortune.

Compliance with the terms of the Paris Accord and the onerous energy restrictions it has placed on the United States could cost America as much as 2.7 million lost jobs by 2025 according to the National Economic Research Associates.  This includes 440,000 fewer manufacturing jobs — not what we need — believe me, this is not what we need — including automobile jobs, and the further decimation of vital American industries on which countless communities rely.  They rely for so much, and we would be giving them so little.

According to this same study, by 2040, compliance with the commitments put into place by the previous administration would cut production for the following sectors:  paper down 12 percent; cement down 23 percent; iron and steel down 38 percent; coal — and I happen to love the coal miners — down 86 percent; natural gas down 31 percent.  The cost to the economy at this time would be close to $3 trillion in lost GDP and 6.5 million industrial jobs, while households would have $7,000 less income and, in many cases, much worse than that.

Not only does this deal subject our citizens to harsh economic restrictions, it fails to live up to our environmental ideals.  As someone who cares deeply about the environment, which I do, I cannot in good conscience support a deal that punishes the United States — which is what it does -– the world’s leader in environmental protection, while imposing no meaningful obligations on the world’s leading polluters.

For example, under the agreement, China will be able to increase these emissions by a staggering number of years — 13.  They can do whatever they want for 13 years.  Not us.  India makes its participation contingent on receiving billions and billions and billions of dollars in foreign aid from developed countries.  There are many other examples.  But the bottom line is that the Paris Accord is very unfair, at the highest level, to the United States.

Further, while the current agreement effectively blocks the development of clean coal in America — which it does, and the mines are starting to open up.  We’re having a big opening in two weeks.  Pennsylvania, Ohio, West Virginia, so many places.  A big opening of a brand-new mine.  It’s unheard of.  For many, many years, that hasn’t happened.  They asked me if I’d go.  I’m going to try.

China will be allowed to build hundreds of additional coal plants.  So we can’t build the plants, but they can, according to this agreement.  India will be allowed to double its coal production by 2020.  Think of it:  India can double their coal production.  We’re supposed to get rid of ours.  Even Europe is allowed to continue construction of coal plants.

In short, the agreement doesn’t eliminate coal jobs, it just transfers those jobs out of America and the United States, and ships them to foreign countries.

This agreement is less about the climate and more about other countries gaining a financial advantage over the United States.  The rest of the world applauded when we signed the Paris Agreement — they went wild; they were so happy — for the simple reason that it put our country, the United States of America, which we all love, at a very, very big economic disadvantage.  A cynic would say the obvious reason for economic competitors and their wish to see us remain in the agreement is so that we continue to suffer this self-inflicted major economic wound.  We would find it very hard to compete with other countries from other parts of the world.

We have among the most abundant energy reserves on the planet, sufficient to lift millions of America’s poorest workers out of poverty.  Yet, under this agreement, we are effectively putting these reserves under lock and key, taking away the great wealth of our nation — it’s great wealth, it’s phenomenal wealth; not so long ago, we had no idea we had such wealth — and leaving millions and millions of families trapped in poverty and joblessness.

The agreement is a massive redistribution of United States wealth to other countries.  At 1 percent growth, renewable sources of energy can meet some of our domestic demand, but at 3 or 4 percent growth, which I expect, we need all forms of available American energy, or our country — (applause) — will be at grave risk of brownouts and blackouts, our businesses will come to a halt in many cases, and the American family will suffer the consequences in the form of lost jobs and a very diminished quality of life.

Even if the Paris Agreement were implemented in full, with total compliance from all nations, it is estimated it would only produce a two-tenths of one degree — think of that; this much — Celsius reduction in global temperature by the year 2100.  Tiny, tiny amount.  In fact, 14 days of carbon emissions from China alone would wipe out the gains from America — and this is an incredible statistic — would totally wipe out the gains from America’s expected reductions in the year 2030, after we have had to spend billions and billions of dollars, lost jobs, closed factories, and suffered much higher energy costs for our businesses and for our homes.

As the Wall Street Journal wrote this morning:  “The reality is that withdrawing is in America’s economic interest and won’t matter much to the climate.”  The United States, under the Trump administration, will continue to be the cleanest and most environmentally friendly country on Earth.  We’ll be the cleanest.  We’re going to have the cleanest air.  We’re going to have the cleanest water.  We will be environmentally friendly, but we’re not going to put our businesses out of work and we’re not going to lose our jobs.  We’re going to grow; we’re going to grow rapidly.  (Applause.)

And I think you just read — it just came out minutes ago, the small business report — small businesses as of just now are booming, hiring people.  One of the best reports they’ve seen in many years.

I’m willing to immediately work with Democratic leaders to either negotiate our way back into Paris, under the terms that are fair to the United States and its workers, or to negotiate a new deal that protects our country and its taxpayers.  (Applause.)

So if the obstructionists want to get together with me, let’s make them non-obstructionists.  We will all sit down, and we will get back into the deal.  And we’ll make it good, and we won’t be closing up our factories, and we won’t be losing our jobs.  And we’ll sit down with the Democrats and all of the people that represent either the Paris Accord or something that we can do that’s much better than the Paris Accord.  And I think the people of our country will be thrilled, and I think then the people of the world will be thrilled.  But until we do that, we’re out of the agreement.

I will work to ensure that America remains the world’s leader on environmental issues, but under a framework that is fair and where the burdens and responsibilities are equally shared among the many nations all around the world.

No responsible leader can put the workers — and the people — of their country at this debilitating and tremendous disadvantage.  The fact that the Paris deal hamstrings the United States, while empowering some of the world’s top polluting countries, should dispel any doubt as to the real reason why foreign lobbyists wish to keep our magnificent country tied up and bound down by this agreement:  It’s to give their country an economic edge over the United States.  That’s not going to happen while I’m President.  I’m sorry.  (Applause.)

My job as President is to do everything within my power to give America a level playing field and to create the economic, regulatory and tax structures that make America the most prosperous and productive country on Earth, and with the highest standard of living and the highest standard of environmental protection.

Our tax bill is moving along in Congress, and I believe it’s doing very well.  I think a lot of people will be very pleasantly surprised.  The Republicans are working very, very hard.  We’d love to have support from the Democrats, but we may have to go it alone.  But it’s going very well.

The Paris Agreement handicaps the United States economy in order to win praise from the very foreign capitals and global activists that have long sought to gain wealth at our country’s expense.  They don’t put America first.  I do, and I always will.  (Applause.)

The same nations asking us to stay in the agreement are the countries that have collectively cost America trillions of dollars through tough trade practices and, in many cases, lax contributions to our critical military alliance.  You see what’s happening.  It’s pretty obvious to those that want to keep an open mind.

At what point does America get demeaned?  At what point do they start laughing at us as a country?   We want fair treatment for its citizens, and we want fair treatment for our taxpayers.  We don’t want other leaders and other countries laughing at us anymore.  And they won’t be.  They won’t be.

I was elected to represent the citizens of Pittsburgh, not Paris.  (Applause.)  I promised I would exit or renegotiate any deal which fails to serve America’s interests.  Many trade deals will soon be under renegotiation.  Very rarely do we have a deal that works for this country, but they’ll soon be under renegotiation.  The process has begun from day one.  But now we’re down to business.

Beyond the severe energy restrictions inflicted by the Paris Accord, it includes yet another scheme to redistribute wealth out of the United States through the so-called Green Climate Fund — nice name — which calls for developed countries to send $100 billion to developing countries all on top of America’s existing and massive foreign aid payments.  So we’re going to be paying billions and billions and billions of dollars, and we’re already way ahead of anybody else.  Many of the other countries haven’t spent anything, and many of them will never pay one dime.

The Green Fund would likely obligate the United States to commit potentially tens of billions of dollars of which the United States has already handed over $1 billion — nobody else is even close; most of them haven’t even paid anything — including funds raided out of America’s budget for the war against terrorism.  That’s where they came.  Believe me, they didn’t come from me.  They came just before I came into office.  Not good.  And not good the way they took the money.

In 2015, the United Nation’s departing top climate officials reportedly described the $100 billion per year as “peanuts,” and stated that “the $100 billion is the tail that wags the dog.”  In 2015, the Green Climate Fund’s executive director reportedly stated that estimated funding needed would increase to $450 billion per year after 2020.  And nobody even knows where the money is going to.  Nobody has been able to say, where is it going to?

Of course, the world’s top polluters have no affirmative obligations under the Green Fund, which we terminated.  America is $20 trillion in debt.  Cash-strapped cities cannot hire enough police officers or fix vital infrastructure.  Millions of our citizens are out of work.  And yet, under the Paris Accord, billions of dollars that ought to be invested right here in America will be sent to the very countries that have taken our factories and our jobs away from us.  So think of that.

There are serious legal and constitutional issues as well.  Foreign leaders in Europe, Asia, and across the world should not have more to say with respect to the U.S. economy than our own citizens and their elected representatives.  Thus, our withdrawal from the agreement represents a reassertion of America’s sovereignty.  (Applause.)  Our Constitution is unique among all the nations of the world, and it is my highest obligation and greatest honor to protect it.  And I will.

Staying in the agreement could also pose serious obstacles for the United States as we begin the process of unlocking the restrictions on America’s abundant energy reserves, which we have started very strongly.  It would once have been unthinkable that an international agreement could prevent the United States from conducting its own domestic economic affairs, but this is the new reality we face if we do not leave the agreement or if we do not negotiate a far better deal.

The risks grow as historically these agreements only tend to become more and more ambitious over time.  In other words, the Paris framework is a starting point — as bad as it is — not an end point.  And exiting the agreement protects the United States from future intrusions on the United States’ sovereignty and massive future legal liability.  Believe me, we have massive legal liability if we stay in.

As President, I have one obligation, and that obligation is to the American people.  The Paris Accord would undermine our economy, hamstring our workers, weaken our sovereignty, impose unacceptable legal risks, and put us at a permanent disadvantage to the other countries of the world.  It is time to exit the Paris Accord — (applause) — and time to pursue a new deal that protects the environment, our companies, our citizens, and our country.

It is time to put Youngstown, Ohio, Detroit, Michigan, and Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania — along with many, many other locations within our great country — before Paris, France.  It is time to make America great again.  (Applause.)  Thank you.  Thank you.  Thank you very much.

Thank you very much.  Very important.  I’d like to ask Scott Pruitt, who most of you know and respect, as I do, just to say a few words.

Scott, please.  (Applause.)

ADMINISTRATOR PRUITT:  Thank you, Mr. President.  Your decision today to exit the Paris Accord reflects your unflinching commitment to put America first.

And by exiting, you’re fulfilling yet one more campaign promise to the American people.  Please know that I am thankful for your fortitude, your courage, and your steadfastness as you serve and lead our country.

America finally has a leader who answers only to the people — not to the special interests who have had their way for way too long.  In everything you do, Mr. President, you’re fighting for the forgotten men and women across this country.  You’re a champion for the hardworking citizens all across this land who just want a government that listens to them and represents their interest.

You have promised to put America First in all that you do, and you’ve done that in any number of ways — from trade, to national security, to protecting our border, to rightsizing Washington, D.C.  And today you’ve put America first with regard to international agreements and the environment.

This is an historic restoration of American economic independence — one that will benefit the working class, the working poor, and working people of all stripes.  With this action, you have declared that the people are rulers of this country once again.  And it should be noted that we as a nation do it better than anyone in the world in striking the balance between growing our economy, growing jobs while also being a good steward of our environment.

We owe no apologies to other nations for our environmental stewardship.  After all, before the Paris Accord was ever signed, America had reduced its CO2 footprint to levels from the early 1990s.  In fact, between the years 2000 and 2014, the United States reduced its carbon emissions by 18-plus percent.  And this was accomplished not through government mandate, but accomplished through innovation and technology of the American private sector.

For that reason, Mr. President, you have corrected a view that was paramount in Paris that somehow the United States should penalize its own economy, be apologetic, lead with our chin, while the rest of world does little.  Other nations talk a good game; we lead with action — not words.  (Applause.)

Our efforts, Mr. President, as you know, should be on exporting our technology, our innovation to nations who seek to reduce their CO2 footprint to learn from us.  That should be our focus versus agreeing to unachievable targets that harm our economy and the American people.

Mr. President, it takes courage, it takes commitment to say no to the plaudits of men while doing what’s right by the American people.  You have that courage, and the American people can take comfort because you have their backs.

Thank you, Mr. President.

END
4:03 P.M. EDT

 

Full Text Political Transcripts May 29, 2017: President Donald Trump’s Memorial Day Speech at Arlington National Cemetery

POLITICAL TRANSCRIPTS

TRUMP PRESIDENCY & 115TH CONGRESS:

Remarks by President Trump at Arlington National Cemetery

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Source: WH, 5-29-17

Arlington, Virginia

11:30 A.M. EDT

THE PRESIDENT:  Thank you so much.  And thank you, General Dunford and Secretary Mattis, for your moving words and for your service to our great nation.  Vice President Pence, Cabinet Secretaries, members of Congress, members of the Armed Forces and veterans — thank you for joining us as we honor the brave warriors who gave their lives for ours, spending their last moments on this Earth in defense of this country and of its people.

Words cannot measure the depth of their devotion, the purity of their love, or the totality of their courage.  We only hope that every day we can prove worthy not only of their sacrifice and service but of the sacrifice made by the families and loved ones they left behind.  Special, special people.

I especially want to extend our gratitude to Secretary John Kelly for joining us today.  Incredible man.  (Applause.)  I always like to call him General.  He understands more than most ever could or ever will the wounds and burdens of war.  Not only did Secretary proudly serve in the military for more than 40 years, enduring many hardships, but he and his incredible wife Karen have borne the single most difficult hardship of them all
— the loss of their son, Robert, in service to our country.  Robert died fighting the enemies of all civilizations in Afghanistan.

To John, Karen, Heather, Kate, Andrea and the entire Kelly family, today 300 million American hearts are joined together with yours.  We grieve with you.  We honor you.  And we pledge to you that we will always remember Robert and what he did for all of us.  Thank you, John.  (Applause.)

The Kelly family represents military families across the country who carry the burden of freedom on their shoulders. Secretary Kelly is joined today by his son-in-law, Jake, a Wounded Warrior.  And the Secretary’s son, Johnnie, will soon leave on his fifth deployment.  It is because of families like yours that all of our families can live in safety and live in peace.

To every Gold Star family who honors us with your presence, you lost sons and daughters, husbands and wives, mothers and fathers.  They each had their own names, their own stories, their own beautiful dreams.  But they were all angels sent to us by God, and they all share one title in common — and that is the title of hero.  (Applause.)  Real heroes.  Though they were here only a brief time before God called them home, their legacy will endure forever.

General Douglas MacArthur once said that “the soldier who is called upon to offer and to give his life for his country is the noblest development of mankind.”  Here at this hallowed shrine, we honor the noblest among us — the men and women who paid the ultimate price for victory and for freedom.  We pay tribute to those brave souls who raced into gunfire, roared into battle, and ran into hell to face down evil.  They made their sacrifice not for fame, or for money, or even for glory — but for country.

We are privileged to be joined today by a man whose life demonstrates the values of service and sacrifice:  Senator Bob Dole, here with his wife, Senator Elizabeth Dole.  (Applause.)   Senator Dole fought bravely in World War II, and was severely wounded by German fire.  In just a few weeks, Bob will be celebrating his 94th birthday.  (Applause.)

And, Bob, I know I speak for millions of grateful Americans when I say thank you.  (Applause.)  Thank you, Bob.  We thank you not only for your service, but for helping us to remember your fallen comrades and the countless American patriots who gave their lives in the Second World War.

Since the first volley of gunfire in the Revolution, brave Americans in every generation have answered the call of duty and won victory for freedom in its hour of need.  Today, a new generation of American patriots are fighting to win the battle against terrorism — risking their lives to protect our citizens from an enemy that uses the murder of innocents to wage war on humanity itself.

We are joined today by the wife of Specialist Christopher Horton, who rests on these so beautiful grounds.  As Jane tells us, Chris “was a man who loved his country with every part of his being.”
In 2008, Chris enlisted in the Oklahoma Army National Guard.  He trained as a sniper, becoming known as one of the best shots anywhere at any time.  He was a talented, tough guy.  While Chris was in the National Guard, he was also a volunteer police officer.  In everything he did, he was thinking about how he could serve God, serve his family and serve his country.

In 2011, he deployed for the first time to Afghanistan. Chris knew his job was one of the most dangerous there was, but he was determined to go after the enemy at any cost to himself.  His missions helped target and kill terrorists who sought to destroy innocent people.  Just three months into his first deployment, Chris was near the Pakistan border, trying to eliminate an enemy cell that was doing so much damage and that was planting deadly roadside bombs against his unit and the units of many others.  Standing watch with his comrades, he died in the ensuing gun battle with enemy forces.  Chris sacrificed his life to protect his fellow soldiers — and to protect all Americans.  He was awarded the Purple Heart and Bronze Star for his courage. At only 26 years old, Chris secured his place in our hearts for eternity.

Jane, America, grieves with you.  Our whole entire nation sends you our support, our strength, and our deep, deep love.  You lost your husband, and America lost a hero.  And together, we will preserve his memory — today, tomorrow, and always.  Thank you, Jane.  (Applause.)  Thank you, Jane.  Thank you, Jane.  (Applause.)  Thank you, Jane.

We are also joined today by David and Rose Byers, the parents of Major Andrew Byers.  As a boy, Andrew dreamed of the chance to attend the United States Military Academy at West Point.  He worked hard, he earned that chance, and he graduated at the top of his class.  He became the commander of a Special HALO team, leading his fellow soldiers out of aircraft, hurtling into dangerous and unknown territory.

About this time last year, Andrew was sent on his third combat deployment.  This time he went to Afghanistan.  On November 3rd, he was one of 10 Special Forces operators to land by helicopter near a Taliban safe haven in northern Afghanistan. They trekked through a mile of waist-deep mud and climbed a steep cliff before finally reaching the village that they wanted to reach.  There, a night-long battle ensued.  Andrew and his team fought off wave after wave after wave of enemy fighters.  A grenade detonated, and as the Taliban began to surround the American and Afghan forces, Andrew ran through the smoke and through the hail of bullets to rescue an Afghan soldier.  In the midst of this torrent of gunfire and danger, Andrew worked heroically to open a gateway and get his men to safety — risking his life to save theirs.  And he did it.  Unbelievably, he did.  But in saving those lives, Andrew was killed right then and there by enemy fire.  Andrew has since been awarded the Silver Star for gallantry in battle.

To his parents, David and Rose, we stand in awe of your son and his courageous sacrifice.  On behalf of the American people, I express to you our everlasting gratitude for what your son did for his country, for his comrades, and for all of us.

Andrew’s father has said that he holds on to the promise of Joshua Chapter 1, Verse 9:  “The Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.”   Thank you.  Thank you.  (Applause.)  Thank you.  Thank you.  (Applause.)  What a man he was.

To every Gold Star family, God is with you, and your loved ones are with Him.  They died in wars so that we could live in peace.  I believe that God has a special place in heaven for those who laid down their lives so that others may live free from fear and this horrible oppression.

Now let us pledge to make the most of that freedom that they so gallantly and brilliantly fought for and they died to protect. Let us also pledge to tell the stories of Robert, Chris, Andrew, and all of America’s fallen warriors today and for the next 1,000 years.  (Applause.)

And while we cannot know the extent of your pain, what we do know is that our gratitude to them and to you is boundless and undying.  Boundless and undying.  We’ll always be there.  Thank you.  (Applause.)  Their stories are now woven into the soul of our nation, into the Stars and Stripes on our flag, and into the beating hearts of our great, great people.

Today we also hold a special vigil for heroes whose story we cannot tell because their names are known to God alone — the unknown soldiers.  We do not know where they came from, who they left behind, or what they hoped to be.  But we do know what they did.  They fought and they died in a great and noble act of loyalty and love to their families and to our country.

The letter written that is now famous — one Civil War soldier captured it all and for all time.  He wrote to his wife, “If I do not return, my dear Sarah, never forget how much I love you, nor that when my last breath escapes me on the battlefield, it will whisper your name.”  That is the love we hear whispering throughout this sacred place and from every tombstone on these hallowed grounds.  It is the love that binds this earth beneath us and it bleeds from the hearts of all of those who died so that we might live free.

We can never replace them.  We can never repay them.  But we can always remember.  And today, that is what we are doing — we remember.  Words cannot wipe away the tears or bring back those smiling faces.  But if Americans just take the time to look into your eyes and tell you how much we thank you and how dearly we pray for you and how truly we love you, then hopefully you can find solace through your pain.  And every time you see the sun rise over this blessed land please know your brave sons and daughters pushed away the night and delivered for us all that great and glorious dawn.

Thank you.  God bless you.  God bless our fallen heroes.  God bless their families.  God bless our military.  And God bless the United States of America.  (Applause.)

END
11:50 A.M. EDT

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